EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 419, Number 3, June I 2004
Page(s) 1025 - 1033
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20035906


A&A 419, 1025-1033 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20035906

Face-on, stream-fed intermediate polars: An alternative model for RX J1914.4+2456 and RX J0806.3+1527

A. J. Norton1, C. A. Haswell1 and G. A. Wynn2

1  Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
2  Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

(Accepted 19 December 2003 / Accepted 19 February 2004)

Abstract
RX J1914.4+2456 and RX J0806.3+1527 have been proposed as double degenerate binaries with orbital periods of 569 s and 321 s respectively. An alternative model, in which the periods are related to the spin of a magnetic white dwarf in an intermediate polar system, has been rejected by other authors. We show that a face-on, stream-fed intermediate polar model for the two systems is viable and preferable to the other models. In each case, the X-ray modulation periods then represent the rotation of the white dwarf in the binary reference frame. The model explains the fully modulated X-ray pulse profiles, the X-ray spectra, the antiphase between X-ray and optical/infrared modulation, the lack of longer period modulation, and the low level of polarization. The optical spectrum of RX J0806.3+1527 suggests that Balmer series lines are present, blended with HeII lines. This is unlike the spectra of any of the known AM CVn stars and suggests that the system is not a double degenerate binary. The optical spectrum of RX J1914.4+2456 has spectral features that are consistent with those of a K star, ruling out the double degenerate models in this case. The lack of optical/infrared emission lines in RX J1914.4+2456 may be attributed to a high mass accretion rate and its face-on orientation. Its reported period decrease may be a short term spin-up episode driven by the current high  $\dot{M}$. Finally we suggest that there is an observational selection effect such that the face-on intermediate polars that are detected will all have a stream-fed component, and the purely stream-fed intermediate polars that are detected will all be face-on systems.


Key words: stars: novae, cataclysmic variables -- X-rays: stars -- stars: individual: RX J1914.4+2456 -- stars: individual: V407 Vul -- stars: individual: RX J0806.3+1527 -- stars: magnetic fields -- stars: binaries

Offprint request: A. J. Norton, A.J.Norton@open.ac.uk

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