Letter to the Editor
Can angular momentum loss cause the period change of NN Serpentis?
Department of Physics and Information Engineering, Shangqiu Normal University, Shangqiu 476000, PR China e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 15 April 2009
NN Ser is a non mass-transferring pre-cataclysmic variable containing a white dwarf with a mass of ~0.5 and an M dwarf secondary star with a mass of ~0.2 . Based on the data obtained with the high-speed CCD camera ULTRACAM, it was observed that the orbital period of NN Ser is decreasing, which may be caused by a genuine angular momentum loss or by the presence of a third body. However, neither gravitational radiation nor magnetic braking can fully account for the period change of NN Ser. Here, we search for a mechanism which could drain the angular momentum from NN Ser. We propose that a fossil circumbinary disk (CB disk) around the binary may have been established at the end of the common envelope phase, and the tidal torques caused by the gravitational interaction between the disk and the binary can efficiently extract the orbital angular momentum from the system. We find that only if M dwarf has an ultra-high wind loss rate of ~10, and a large fraction () of wind loss is fed into the CB disk, can the loss rates of angular momentum via the CB disk explain the period change observed in NN Ser. Such a wind loss rate and δ-value seem to be highly unlikely. Hence it seems that the presence of a third body in a long orbit around the binary might account for the changing period of NN Ser.
Key words: binaries: eclipsing / pulsars: individual: N Serpentis / stars: evolution / white dwarfs / stars: winds, outflows
© ESO, 2009