EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 377, Number 3, October III 2001
Page(s) 898 - 910
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20011092

A&A 377, 898-910 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20011092

An analysis of the light curve of the post common envelope binary MT Serpentis

A. Bruch1, L. P. R. Vaz2 and M. P. Diaz3

1  Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica, CP 21, 37500-000 Itajubá -MG, Brazil
2  Departamento de Física, ICEx-UFMG, CP. 702, 30123-970 Belo Horizonte -MG, Brazil
    e-mail: lpv@fisica.ufmg.br
3  Instituto Astronômico e Geofísico, USP, CP 9638, 01065-970 São Paulo -SP, Brazil
    e-mail: marcos@binary.iagusp.usp.br

(Received 8 March 2001 / Accepted 26 July 2001 )

Photometric observations of MT Ser, the central star of the planetary nebula Abell 41 are presented. The periodic modulations detected by Grauer & Bond (1983) are confirmed, thus firmly establishing the binary nature of MT Ser. The significantly enlarged time base permits us to derive more accurate ephemeris. The orbital period is either P1 = 0.113226533 days or twice that value, P2 = 0.226453066 days. We analyze the light curve (after a careful subtraction of the nebular contribution) with the Wilson-Devinney light curve synthesis routine. Since it is not a priori clear which is the true orbital period of MT Ser, two radically different models, one based on P1 the other on P2 are considered: (1) A low temperature component orbiting around a hot sub-dwarf. The variability is then due to a reflection effect together with ellipsoidal variations of one or both components. (2) Two hot sub-dwarfs of similar temperature and luminosity, partially eclipsing each other and exhibiting ellipsoidal variations. In both models, the primary as well as the secondary component are required to almost fill their respective Roche lobes. A contact configuration is possible. Pros and cons can be found for either of the two models. A final decision between them has to await the observations of a radial velocity curve. The orbital period is currently decreasing at a rate of $\dot{P}/P = -1.15 \times 10^{-9}
{\rm d}^{-1}$. Interpreting this as due to mass loss via a stellar winds permits us to estimate mass loss rates depending on the different model assumptions.

Key words: stars: variables: other -- stars: individual: MT Ser

Offprint request: A. Bruch, albert@lna.br

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