Projected spin–orbit alignments from Kepler asteroseismology and Gaia astrometry

Warrick H Ball*, Amaury H M J Triaud, Emily Hatt, Martin B Nielsen, William J Chaplin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The angle between the rotation and orbital axes of stars in binary systems – the obliquity – is an important indicator of how these systems form and evolve, but few such measurements exist. We combine the sample of astrometric orbital inclinations from Gaia Data Release 3 with a sample of solar-like oscillators in which rotational inclinations have been measured using asteroseismology. We supplement our sample with one binary whose visual orbit has been determined using speckle interferometry and present the projected spin–orbit alignments in five systems. We find that each system, and the overall sample, is consistent with alignment but there are important caveats. First, the asteroseismic rotational inclinations are fundamentally ambiguous and, secondly, we can only measure the projected (rather than true) obliquity. If rotational and orbital inclinations are independent and isotropically distributed, the likelihood of drawing our data by chance is less than a few per cent. Though small, our data set argues against uniformly random obliquities in binary systems. We speculate that dozens more measurements could be made using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission, mostly in red giants. ESA’s PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations mission will likely produce hundreds more spin–orbit measurements in systems with main-sequence and subgiant stars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1-L4
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • asteroseismology
  • binaries: general
  • stars: rotation


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