Journal Article

Spin-resolved spectroscopy of the intermediate polar DQ Her

S. Bloemen, T. R. Marsh, D. Steeghs and R. H. Østensen

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 407, issue 3, pages 1903-1912
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Spin-resolved spectroscopy of the intermediate polar DQ Her

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We present high-speed spectroscopic observations of the intermediate polar (IP) DQ Herculis. Doppler tomography of two He i lines reveals a spiral density structure in the accretion disc around the white dwarf (WD) primary. The spirals look very similar to the spirals seen in dwarf novae during outburst. DQ Her is the first well-established IP in which spirals are seen, which are in addition likely persistent because of the system's high mass transfer rate. Spiral structures give an alternative explanation for sidebands of the WD spin frequency that are found in IP light curves. The Doppler tomogram of He ii λ 4686 indicates that a large part of the emission is not disc-like.

Spin trails of spectra reveal a pulsation in the He ii λ 4686 emission that is believed to result from reprocessing of X-rays from the WD's magnetic poles in the accretion flow close to the WD. We confirm the previous finding that the pulsation is only visible in the redshifted part of the line when the beam points to the back side of the disc. The absence of reprocessed light from the front side of the disc can be explained by obscuration by the front rim of the disc, but the absence of extra emission from the blueshifted back side of the disc is puzzling. Reprocessing in accretion curtains can be an answer to the problem and can also explain the highly non-Keplerian velocity components that are found in the He ii λ 4686 line. Our spin trails can form a strong test for future accretion curtain models, with the possibility of distinguishing between a spin period of 71 or 142 s. Spin trails of data taken at selected orbital phases show little evidence for a significant contribution of the bright spot to the pulsations and allow us to exclude a recent suggestion that 71 s is the beat period and 70.8 s the spin period.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; binaries: close; binaries: eclipsing; stars: individual: DQ Herculis; novae, cataclysmic variables

Journal Article.  6642 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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