EDP Sciences
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Volume 473, Number 2, October II 2007
Page(s) 511 - 521
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20077684

A&A 473, 511-521 (2007)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20077684

Paloma (RX J0524+42): the missing link in magnetic CV evolution?

R. Schwarz1, A. D. Schwope1, A. Staude1, A. Rau2, G. Hasinger3, T. Urrutia4, and C. Motch5

1  Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
    e-mail: rschwarz@aip.de
2  Caltech Optical Observatories, Mail Code 105-24, California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
3  Max-Planck Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Postfach 1312, 85741 Garching, Germany
4  Department of Physics, UC Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA
5  Observatoire Astronomique, UA 1280 CNRS, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France

(Received 20 April 2007 / Accepted 14 June 2007)

Decent optical photometry of the canditate magnetic CV Paloma has uncovered three persistent periods at 157, 146, and 136 min, which we interpret as the manifestation of the orbital motion of the system, the white dwarf's spin, and a related side-band frequency of the other two. All three periodicities are caused by a double-humped modulation of about 1 mag appearing only at certain fractions of the beat cycle, and it probably originates from one or two accretion spots. Our data is consistent with two plausible solutions, with the spin period being either 146 or 136 min. The appearance of a corresponding spin-folded light curve suggests two different scenarios, for which either pole switching between two diametrically opposed accretion regions (for $P_{\rm spin}$ = 146 min) or pole migration of one single spot (with $P_{\rm spin}$ = 136 min) is the preferred accretion mode. Complementary ROSAT X-ray observations and low-resolution spectroscopy provide supporting evidence of the magnetic nature of the object. Depending on the choice of the spin period, the degree of asynchronism with respect to the orbital period is 7% or 14%, implying a beat period of 0.7 or 1.4 days. Thus, the source populates the gap between the near-synchronous polars (<2%) and the DQ Herculis stars with long spin periods (e.g. EX Hya, V1025 Cen, DW Cnc). With an orbital period right within the period gap, Paloma is a key object for magnetic CV evolution: it might be the first bona fide transition object between the DQ Her and AM Her system with a white dwarf currently in the process of synchronisation.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- magnetic fields -- X-rays: binaries -- stars: novae, cataclysmic variables -- stars: individual: RX J0524+42

© ESO 2007

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