ZTF18abhjrcf: The First R Coronae Borealis Star from the Zwicky Transient Facility Public Survey

Chien Hsiu Lee, Thomas Matheson, Monika Soraisam, Monika Soraisam, Gautham Narayan, Abhjita Saha, Carl Stubens, Nicholas Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


R Coronae Borealis stars (RCBs) constitute a rare class of stars that are hydrogen depleted and carbon enriched, possibly from white dwarf mergers. RCBs are identified by their stochastic dimming with photometric variations of as much as eight magnitudes. Hence, the discoveries of RCBs were heavily biased to the limited regions monitored by long-term microlensing experiments. However, recent studies of galactic RCBs have shown that they exhibit distinct mid-infrared colors originating from their cool circumstellar shells. The all-sky Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) survey thus facilitates the identification of RCB candidates. Therefore, combining the WISE colors with large-area time-domain surveys will enable us to discover more RCBs. Here we present the results of a first attempt to identify RCBs in the public Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) alert stream, using the alert broker ANTARES. We identify a candidate RCB using the infrared color selection by Tisserand et al. and large light curve variations in the optical from ZTF. We then conduct subsequent observations using the FLOYDS spectrograph at the Las Cumbres Observatory and confirm ZTF18abhjrcf as a bona fide RCB. This demonstrates the potential to discover uncharted RCBs as ZTF and other time-domain surveys continue to operate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number61
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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