The statistical significance of the superhump signal in U Geminorum
Departamento de Física y Astronomía, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile e-mail: Matthias.Schreiber@uv.cl
2 Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
Accepted: 16 January 2007
Context.Although its well-determined mass ratio of should avoid superoutbursts according to the thermal tidal instability model, in 1985 the prototypical dwarf nova U Gem experienced an extraordinary long outburst very much resembling superoutbursts observed in SU UMa systems. Recently, the situation for the model became even worse as superhump detections have been reported for the 1985 outburst of U Gem.
Aims.The superhump signal is noisy and the evidence provided by simple periodograms seems to be weak. Therefore and because of the importance for our understanding of superoutbursts and superhumps, we determine the statistical significance of the recently published detection of superhumps in the AAVSO light curve of the famous long 1985 outburst of U Gem.
Methods.Using Lomb-Scargle periodograms, analysis of variance (AoV), and Monte-Carlo methods we analyse the 160 visual magnitudes obtained by the AAVSO during the outburst and relate our analysis to previous superhump detections.
Results.The 160 data points of the outburst alone do not contain a statistically significant period. However, using the characteristics of superhumps detected previously in other SU UMa systems additionally and searching only for signals that are consistent with these, we derive a significance for the superhump signal. The alleged appearance of an additional superhump at the end of the outbursts appears to be statistically insignificant.
Conclusions.Although of weak statistical significance, the superhump signal of the long 1985 outburst of U Gem can be interpreted as further indication of the SU UMa nature of this outburst. This further contradicts the tidal instability model as the explanation of the superhump phenomenon.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / instabilities / stars: individual: U Geminorum / stars: dwarf novae, cataclysmic variables / stars: binaries: close
© ESO, 2007