Journal Article

Properties of discontinuous and nova-amplified mass transfer in cataclysmic variables

K. Schenker, U. Kolb and H. Ritter

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 297, issue 2, pages 633-647
Published in print June 1998 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.1998.01529.x
Properties of discontinuous and nova-amplified mass transfer in cataclysmic variables

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We investigate the effects of discontinuous mass loss in recurrent outburst events on the long-term evolution of cataclysmic variables (CVs). Similarly we consider the effects of frictional angular momentum loss (FAML), i.e. interaction of the expanding nova envelope with the secondary. The Bondi-Hoyle accretion model is used to parametrize FAML in terms of the expansion velocity vexp of the nova envelope at the location of the secondary; we find that small vexp causes strong FAML.

Numerical calculations of CV evolution over a wide range of parameters demonstrate the equivalence of a discontinuous sequence of nova cycles and the corresponding mean evolution (replacing envelope ejection by a continuous wind), even close to the mass-transfer instability. A formal stability analysis of discontinuous mass transfer confirms this, independent of details of the FAML model.

FAML is a consequential angular momentum loss that amplifies the mass-transfer rate driven by systemic angular momentum losses such as magnetic braking. We show that for a given vexp and white dwarf mass the amplification increases with secondary mass and is significant only close to the largest secondary mass consistent with mass-transfer stability. The amplification factor is independent of the envelope mass ejected during the outburst, whereas the mass-transfer amplitude induced by individual nova outbursts is proportional to it.

In sequences calculated with nova model parameters taken from Prialnik & Kovetz, FAML amplification is negligible, but the outburst amplitude in systems below the period gap with a white dwarf mass ≃ 0.6 M⊙ is larger than a factor of 10. The mass-transfer rate in such systems is smaller than 10−11 M⊙ yr−1 for ≃ 0.5 Myr (≃ 10 per cent of the nova cycle) after the outburst. This offers an explanation for intrinsically unusually faint CVs below the period gap.

Keywords: binaries: close; stars: evolution; novae; cataclysmic variables

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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