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Theoretical orbital period distributions of cataclysmic variables above the period gap: effects of circumbinary disks

Abstract : The population of non magnetic cataclysmic variables evolving under the influence of a circumbinary disk is investigated for systems above the upper edge of the period gap at orbital periods greater than 2.75hr. For a fractional mass input rate into the disk, corresponding to 3e-4 of the mass transfer rate, the model systems exhibit a bounce at orbital periods greater than 2.75hr. The simulations reveal that (1) some systems can exist as dwarf nova type systems throughout their lifetime, (2) dwarf nova type systems can evolve into nova-like systems as their mass transfer rate increases with increasing circumbinary disk mass, and (3) nova-like systems can evolve back into dwarf nova systems during their postbounce evolution to longer orbital periods. Among these subclasses, nova-like cataclysmic variables would be the best candidates to search for circumbinary disks at wavelengths greater than 10 micron. The theoretical orbital period distribution of our population synthesis model is in reasonable accord with the combined population of dwarf novae and nova-like systems above the period gap, suggesting the possibility that systems with unevolved donors need not detach and evolve below the period gap as in the disrupted magnetic braking model. The resulting population furthermore reveals the possible presence of systems with small mass ratios (a property of systems exhibiting superhump phenomena at long orbital periods) and a preference of O/Ne/Mg white dwarfs in dwarf nova systems in comparison to nova-like systems. The importance of observational bias in accounting for the differing populations is examined, and it is shown that an understanding of these effects is necessary in order to confront the theoretical distributions with the observed ones in a meaningful manner. (abridged)
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Contributor : Dominique Girod <>
Submitted on : Thursday, May 10, 2007 - 2:29:11 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:24:03 PM

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B. Willems, R. Taam, U. Kolb, G. Dubus, E. Sandquist. Theoretical orbital period distributions of cataclysmic variables above the period gap: effects of circumbinary disks. The Astrophysical Journal, American Astronomical Society, 2007, 657, pp.465-481. ⟨in2p3-00145486⟩

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