Journal Article

The secondary stars in cataclysmic variables and low-mass X-ray binaries

D. A. Smith and V. S. Dhillon

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 301, issue 3, pages 767-781
Published in print December 1998 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online December 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-8711.1998.02065.x
The secondary stars in cataclysmic variables and low-mass X-ray binaries

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Abstract

We critically re-examine the available data on the spectral types, masses and radii of the secondary stars in cataclysmic variables (CVs) and low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), using the new catalogue of Ritter &38; Kolb as a starting point. We find there are 55 reliable spectral type determinations and only 14 reliable mass determinations of CV secondary stars (10 and 5, respectively, in the case of LMXBs). We derive new spectral type-period, mass-radius, mass-period and radius-period relations, and compare them with theoretical predictions. We find that CV secondary stars with orbital periods shorter than 7–8 h are, as a group, indistinguishable from main-sequence stars in detached binaries. We find that it is not valid, however, to estimate the mass from the spectral type of the secondary star in CVs or LMXBs. We find that LMXB secondary stars show some evidence for evolution, with secondary stars which are slightly too large for their mass. We show how the masses and radii of the secondary stars in CVs can be used to test the validity of the disrupted magnetic braking model of CV evolution, but we find that the currently available data are not sufficiently accurate or numerous to allow such an analysis. As well as considering secondary star masses, we also discuss the masses of the white dwarfs in CVs, and find mean values of below the period gap, and above the period gap.

Keywords: binaries: close; stars: late-type; novae, cataclysmic variables; X-rays: stars

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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