Journal Article

<i>XMM–Newton</i> observes flaring in the polar UZ For during a low state

Dirk Pandel and France A. Córdova

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 336, issue 3, pages 1049-1055
Published in print November 2002 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2002 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.2002.05846.x
XMM–Newton observes flaring in the polar UZ For during a low state

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Abstract

During an XMM–Newton observation, the eclipsing polar UZ For was found in a peculiar state with an extremely low X-ray luminosity and occasional X-ray and ultraviolet (UV) flaring. For most of the observation, UZ For was only barely detected in X-rays and ∼800 times fainter than during a high state previously observed with ROSAT. A transient event, which lasted ∼900 s, was detected simultaneously by the X-ray instruments and, in the UV, by the Optical Monitor. The transient was likely caused by the impact of 1017–1018 g of gas on the main accretion region of the white dwarf. The X-ray spectrum of the transient is consistent with ∼7 keV thermal bremsstrahlung from the shock-heated gas in the accretion column. A soft blackbody component resulting from reprocessing of X-rays in the white dwarf atmosphere is not seen. The increase in the UV flux during the transient was likely caused by cyclotron radiation from the shock-heated gas. Two more flaring events were detected by the Optical Monitor while the X-ray instruments were not operating. We conclude from our analysis that the unusual flaring behaviour during the low state of UZ For was caused by intermittent increases of the mass transfer rate owing to stellar activity on the secondary. In addition to the transient events, the Optical Monitor detected a roughly constant UV flux consistent with 11 000-K blackbody radiation from the photosphere of the white dwarf. We find a small orbital modulation of the UV flux caused by a large, heated pole cap around the main accretion region.

Keywords: stars: activity; binaries: eclipsing; stars: individual: UZ For; stars: magnetic fields; novae, cataclysmic variables; X-rays: binaries

Journal Article.  6029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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