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Cataclysmic Variables
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Title: Cataclysmic Variables in Globular Clusters
Authors: Christian Knigge (University of Southampton)

Every massive globular cluster (GC) is expected to harbour a significant population of cataclysmic variables (CVs). In this review, I first explain why GC CVs matter astrophysically, how many and what types are theoretically predicted to exist and what observational tools we can use to discover, confirm and study them. I then take a look at how theoretical predictions and observed samples actually stack up to date. In the process, I also reconsider the evidence for two widely held ideas about CVs in GCs: (i) that there must be many fewer dwarf novae than expected; (ii) that the incidence of magnetic CVs is much higher in GCs than in the Galactic field.

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RE: Cataclysmic variable
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Title: The Evolution of Cataclysmic Variables
Authors: Christian Knigge (University of Southampton)

I review our current understanding of the evolution of cataclysmic variables (CVs). I first provide a brief introductory "CV primer", in which I describe the physical structure of CVs, as well as their astrophysical significance. The main part of the review is divided into three parts. The first part outlines the theoretical principles of CV evolution, focusing specifically on the standard "disrupted magnetic braking" model. The second part describes how some of the most fundamental predictions this model are at last being test observationally. Finally, the third part describes recent efforts to actually reconstruct the evolution path of CVs empirically. Some of these efforts suggest that angular momentum loss below the period gap must be enhanced relative to the purely gravitational-radiation-driven losses assumed in the standard model.

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Posts: 131433
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Cataclysmic Variables
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Title: Helium White Dwarfs in Cataclysmic Variables
Authors: Ken J. Shen, Irit Idan, Lars Bildsten
(Version v2)

Binary evolution predicts a population of helium core (M < 0.5 Msol) white dwarfs (WDs) that are slowly accreting hydrogen-rich material from low mass main sequence or brown dwarf donors with orbital periods less than four hours. Four binaries are presently known in the Milky Way that will reach such a mass-transferring state in a few Gyr. Despite these predictions and observations of progenitor binaries, there are still no secure cases of helium core WDs among the mass-transferring cataclysmic variables (CVs). This led us to calculate the fate of He WDs once accretion begins at a rate Mdot < 1e-10 Msol/yr set by angular momentum losses. We show here that the cold He core temperatures (T_c < 1e7 K) and low Mdot result in ~ 1e-3 Msol of accumulated H-rich material at the onset of the thermonuclear runaway. Shara and collaborators noted that these large accumulated masses may lead to exceptionally long classical nova (CN) events. For a typical donor star of 0.2 Msol, such binaries will only yield a few hundred CNe, making these events rare amongst all CNe. We calculate the reheating of the accreting WD, allowing a comparison to the measured WD effective temperatures in quiescent dwarf novae and raising the possibility that WD seismology may be the best way to confirm the presence of a He WD. We also find that a very long (> 1000 yr) stable burning phase occurs after the CN outburst, potentially explaining enigmatic short orbital period supersoft sources like RX J0537-7034 (P_orb = 3.5 hr) and 1E 0035.4-7230 (P_orb = 4.1 hr).

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Nova
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La compréhension des explosions d'étoiles plus compliquée que prévu
Appelées novæ, les explosions d'étoiles mettent en oeuvre des réactions nucléaires entre les atomes de l'étoile. Pour mieux comprendre ces phénomènes violents, les astrophysiciens étudient le rayonnement émis par certains types d'atomes, notamment le fluor-18 issu des réactions. Or, des chercheurs du Ganil (1) (CEA-CNRS ( 2)), en collaboration avec des équipes anglaises, belges, roumaines et françaises, viennent de déterminer que le fluor-18 serait moins abondant que prévu. Cette découverte réduit donc la chance d'observer le rayonnement émis par cet atome. Elle implique de nouvelles contraintes pour l'observation et la compréhension des novæ. Ces travaux viennent d'être publiés dans la revue Physical Review Letters.

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Posts: 131433
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Rebrightening Phenomenon in Classical Novae
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Title: Rebrightening Phenomenon in Classical Novae
Authors: Taichi Kato (Kyoto U), Kazuhiro Nakajima (VSOLJ), Hiroyuki Maehara (Kyoto U), Seiichiro Kiyota (VSOLJ)

Two classical novae V1493 Aql and V2362 Cyg were known to exhibit unprecedented large-amplitude rebrightening during the late stage of their evolution. We analysed common properties in these two light curves. We show that these unusual light curves are very well expressed by a combination of power-law decline, omnipresent in fast novae, and exponential brightening. We propose a schematic interpretation of the properties common to these rebrightenings can be a consequence of a shock resulting from a secondary ejection and its breakout in the optically thick nova winds. This interpretation has an advantage in explaining the rapid fading following the rebrightening and the subsequent evolution of the light curve. The exponential rise might reflect emerging light from the shock front, analogous to a radiative precursor in a supernova shock breakout. The consequence of such a shock in the nova wind potentially explains many kinds of unusual phenomena in novae including early-stage variations and potentially dust formation.

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Cataclysmic Variables
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Title: XMM-Newton and Optical Observations of Cataclysmic Variables from SDSS
Authors: Eric J. Hilton, Paula Szkody, Anjum Mukadam, Arne Henden, William Dillon, Gary D. Schmidt

We report on XMM-Newton and optical results for 6 cataclysmic variables that were selected from Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectra because they showed strong HeII emission lines, indicative of being candidates for containing white dwarfs with strong magnetic fields. While high X-ray background rates prevented optimum results, we are able to confirm SDSSJ233325.92+152222.1 as an intermediate polar from its strong pulse signature at 21 min and its obscured hard X-ray spectrum. Ground-based circular polarisation and photometric observations were also able to confirm SDSSJ142256.31-022108.1 as a polar with a period near 4 hr. Photometry of SDSSJ083751.00+383012.5 and SDSSJ093214.82+495054.7 solidifies the orbital period of the former as 3.18 hrs and confirms the latter as a high inclination system with deep eclipses.

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RE: Cataclysmic variable
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Title: Parallax and Distance Estimates for Twelve Cataclysmic Variable Stars
Authors: J. R. Thorstensen, S. Lepine, M. Shara

We report parallax and distance estimates for twelve more cataclysmic binaries and related objects observed with the 2.4m Hiltner telescope at MDM Observatory. The final parallax accuracy is typically about 1 mas. For only one of the twelve objects, IR Gem, do we fail to detect a significant parallax. Notable results include distances for V396 Hya (CE 315), a helium double degenerate with a relatively long orbital period, and for MQ Dra (SDSSJ155331+551615), a magnetic system with a very low accretion rate. We find that the Z Cam star KT Persei is physically paired with a K main-sequence star lying 15 arcsec away. Several of the targets have distance estimates in the literature that are based on the white dwarf's effective temperature and flux; our measurements broadly corroborate these estimates, but tend to put the stars a bit closer, indicating that the white dwarfs may have rather larger masses than assumed. As a side note, we briefly describe radial velocity spectroscopy that refines the orbital period of V396 Hya to 65.07 ± 0.08 min.

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Title: Orbital periods of cataclysmic variables identified by the SDSS. III. Time-series photometry obtained during the 2004/5 International Time Project on La Palma
Authors: M. Dillon, B.T. Gaensicke, A. Aungwerojwit, P. Rodriguez-Gil, T.R. Marsh, S.C.C. Barros, P. Szkody, S. Brady, T. Krajci, A. Oksanen

We present time resolved CCD photometry of 15 cataclysmic variables (CVs) identified by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The data were obtained as part of the 2004/05 International Time Programme on La Palma. We discuss the morphology of the light curves and the CV subtypes and give accurate orbital periods for 11 systems. Nine systems are found below the 2-3h orbital period gap, of which five have periods within a few minutes of the ~80min minimum orbital period. One system each is found within and above the gap. This confirms the previously noted trend for a large fraction of short-period systems among the SDSS CVs. Objects of particular interest are SDSSJ0901+4809 and SDSSJ1250+6655 which are deeply eclipsing. SDSSJ0854+3905 is a polar with an extremely modulated light curve, which is likely due to a mixture of cyclotron beaming and eclipses of the accretion region by the white dwarf. One out of five systems with white-dwarf dominated optical spectra exhibits non-radial pulsations.

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Title: Newly Discovered Cataclysmic Variables from the INT/WFC Photometric H alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane
Authors: A. R. Witham, C. Knigge, A. Aungwerojwit, J. E. Drew, B. T. Gaensicke, R. Greimel, P. J. Groot, G. H. A. Roelofs, D. Steeghs, P. A. Woudt

We report the discovery of 11 new cataclysmic variable (CV) candidates by the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) Photometric H alpha Survey of the northern Galactic plane (IPHAS). Three of the systems have been the subject of further follow-up observations. For the CV candidates IPHAS J013031.90+622132.4 and IPHAS J051814.34+294113.2, time-resolved optical spectroscopy has been obtained and radial-velocity measurements of the H alpha emission-line have been used to estimate their orbital periods. A third CV candidate (IPHAS J062746.41+ 014811.3) was observed photometrically and found to be eclipsing. All three systems have orbital periods above the CV period-gap of 2-3 h. We also highlight one other system, IPHAS J025827.88+635234.9, whose spectrum distinguishes it as a likely high luminosity object with unusual C and N abundances.

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An international team of astronomers might have discovered the missing link in the evolution of the so-called magnetic cataclysmic variable stars. They determined the spin and orbital periods of the binary star Paloma. They found that the Paloma system has a weird way of rotating that fills the gap between two classes of magnetic cataclysmic stars. Their results will soon be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
 
Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are a class of binary stars made up of a white dwarf [1] and a normal star much like our Sun. Both stars orbit so close to each other that the white dwarf accretes matter from the companion star. In most of the several hundred CVs known, the matter spirals around the white dwarf, forming a disk, before being accreted and incorporated into the star. About 20% of the known CVs include a white dwarf with a strong magnetic field of several million Gauss [2]. They are known as  magnetic CVs. The magnetic field of the white dwarf can be strong enough to disrupt the accretion disk or even to prevent the disc from forming.

Astronomers currently know two classes of magnetic CVs:

    Polars (also known as the prototype star AM Herculis) have a strong enough magnetic field to synchronize the spin period of the stars and the orbital period of the system [3]. A departure from synchronization is observed for four AM Herculis stars, which are thought to be normal AM Herculis systems currently desynchronised by a recent nova explosion. The difference between the spin period and the orbital period, that is, the degree of asynchronism, is less than 2% for these near-synchronous polars.

    Intermediate polars (known as DQ Herculis stars) have a lower magnetic field, and the spin period of the stars is shorter than the orbital period. The majority of the DQ Herculis stars have orbital periods longer than 3 hours and spin periods ranging from 33 seconds to 1 hour.

In a cataclysmic variable system, both stars are so close to each other (the whole system would match the size of our Sun) that astronomers cannot distinguish one star from the other. For studying CVs, they rely on indirect observations: measuring the variation in the brightness of the system, thereby estimating its characteristics (orbit size, period).
Dr. R. Schwarz and his colleagues [4] studied the candidate magnetic CV Paloma (also known as RX J0524+42), which has not yet been characterised. It does not fit either of the known CVs categories. The team presents both long- and short-term monitoring of this stellar system, using several European telescopes (1.2m OHP, 70 cm AIP, 1.23m Calar Alto), over a period ranging from 1995 to 2001. With this monitoring, they built the light curves and estimated the periods of the system. ROSAT observations of the system confirm that it has a strong magnetic field and thus belongs to the magnetic CVs.
From their observations, the team concludes that the faster white dwarf performs 14 spins around its own axis during 13 orbital revolutions. The weird degree of synchronization of the system presents the characteristics that makes Paloma so interesting. This bridges the gap between the two main classes of magnetic CVs: it spins much more slowly than any known intermediate polar, but is too much desynchronised to be an AM Herculis star. Paloma thus revives the old idea that both classes are evolutionarily linked together and that intermediate polars are the ancestors of the older AM Herculis stars. Theoreticians predict that Paloma is in the process of synchronization and should become a spin-locked AM Herculis star over the next 100 million years.

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[1] A white dwarf is a dying star that has exhausted most of its nuclear fuel. It is extremely dense (1 ton per cm3), with about the mass of the Sun and the size of the Earth. Our Sun will become a white dwarf in about 4.5 billion years.

[2] For comparison, the Sun's magnetic field is about 50 Gauss and the magnetic field inside a nuclear medical imaging device is about 10000 Gauss.

[3] The Earth-Moon system illustrates the case for synchronization in astronomy: from the Earth, we always see the same side of the Moon because the spin period of the Moon is the same as its orbital period around the Earth.

[4] The team includes R. Schwarz, A.D. Schwope, A. Staude (Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany), A. Rau (CalTech, USA), G. Hasinger (MPI, Garching, Germany), T. Urrutia (UC Davis, USA), and C. Motch (Observatoire Astronomique, Strasbourg, France).


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