Using Kepler K2 to Measure the Binary Fraction of PN Central Stars

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American Astronomical Society


During the initial Kepler mission, 5 Planetary Nebula (PN) central stars were observed. The light curves for 4 of these central stars indicated a history of close binary interactions. That large fraction was suggestive that the actual fraction of PN harboring close binaries is much larger than the known lower limit of 20%, but that sample is far too small to be compelling. We have since acquired Kepler K2 data for Campaigns 0, 2, 7, and 11, hosting PN samples of 3, 4, 8, and 185 targets, respectively. We will provide an update on the number of binary candidates found in each field, and in particular, the Galactic Bulge field of Campaign 11. We also will discuss the challenges of working with Kepler observations in the crowded Campaign 11 field and the impact of those challenges on our ability to estimate the fraction of PN central stars that are binaries. This study was supported in part by NASA grants NNX17AE64G and NNX17AF80G.