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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society - Letters


SDSS J1507+52 is an eclipsing cataclysmic variable (CV) consisting of a cool, non-radially pulsating white dwarf and an unusually small substellar secondary. The system has a high space velocity and a very short orbital period of about 67 min, well below the usual minimum period for CVs. To explain the existence of this peculiar system, two theories have been proposed. One suggests that SDSS J1507+52 was formed from a detached white dwarf-brown dwarf binary. The other theory proposes that the system is a member of the Galactic halo population.

Here, we present the ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy of SDSS J1507+52 obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope with the aim of distinguishing between these two theories. The UV flux of the system is dominated by the emission from the accreting white dwarf. Fits to model stellar atmospheres yield physical parameter estimates of Teff= 14 200 ± 500 K, log g= 8.2 ± 0.3, v sin i= 180 ± 20 km s-1 and [Fe/H]=-1.2 ± 0.2. These fits suggest a distance towards SDSS J1507+52 of d= 250 ± 50 pc. The quoted uncertainties include systematic errors associated with the adopted fitting windows and interstellar reddening.

Assuming that there is no contribution to the UV flux from a hot, optically thick boundary layer, we find a Teff much higher than previously estimated from eclipse analyses. The strongly subsolar metallicity we infer for SDSS J1507+52 is consistent with that of halo stars at the same space velocity. We therefore conclude that SDSS J1507+52 is a member of the Galactic halo.