General relativistic orbital decay in a seven-minute-orbital-period eclipsing binary system

Kevin B. Burdge, Michael W. Coughlin, Jim Fuller, Thomas Kupfer, Eric C. Bellm, Lars Bildsten, Matthew J. Graham, David L. Kaplan, Jan van Roestel, Richard G. Dekany, Dmitry A. Duev, Michael Feeney, Matteo Giomi, George Helou, Stephen Kaye, Russ R. Laher, Ashish A. Mahabal, Frank J. Masci, Reed Riddle, David L. ShupeMaayane T. Soumagnac, Roger M. Smith, Paula Szkody, Richard Walters, S. R. Kulkarni, Thomas A. Prince

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


General relativity1 predicts that short-orbital-period binaries emit considerable amounts of gravitational radiation. The upcoming Laser Interferometer Space Antenna2 (LISA) is expected to detect tens of thousands of such systems3 but few have been identified4, of which only one5 is eclipsing—the double-white-dwarf binary SDSS J065133.338+284423.37, which has an orbital period of 12.75 minutes. Here we report the discovery of an eclipsing double-white-dwarf binary system, ZTF J153932.16+502738.8, with an orbital period of 6.91 minutes. This system has an orbit so compact that the entire binary could fit within the diameter of the planet Saturn. The system exhibits a deep eclipse, and a double-lined spectroscopic nature. We see rapid orbital decay, consistent with that expected from general relativity. ZTF J153932.16+502738.8 is a strong source of gravitational radiation close to the peak of LISA’s sensitivity, and we expect it to be detected within the first week of LISA observations, once LISA launches in approximately 2034.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-531
Number of pages4
Issue number7766
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


Acknowledgements K.B.B. thanks the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Heising Simons Foundation for supporting his research.

FundersFunder number
Heising Simons Foundation
National Science Foundation
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences1748958, 1440341
National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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