A dynamo mechanism as the potential origin of the long cycle in double periodic variables
Departamento de AstronomíaFacultad Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Concepción, Av. Esteban Iturra s/n Barrio Universitario, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
Received: 11 May 2016
Accepted: 9 March 2017
The class of double period variables (DPVs) consists of close interacting binaries, with a characteristic long period that is an order of magnitude longer than the corresponding orbital period, many of them with a characteristic ratio of approximately 35. We consider here the possibility that the accretion flow is modulated as a result of a magnetic dynamo cycle. Due to the short binary separations, we expect the rotation of the donor star to be synchronized with the rotation of the binary due to tidal locking. We here present a model to estimate the dynamo number and the resulting relation between the activity cycle length and the orbital period, as well as an estimate for the modulation of the mass transfer rate. The latter is based on Applegate’s scenario, implying cyclic changes in the radius of the donor star and thus in the mass transfer rate as a result of magnetic activity. Our model is applied to a sample of 17 systems with known physical parameters, 11 of which also have known modulation periods. In spite of the uncertainties of our simplified framework, the results show a reasonable agreement, indicating that a dynamo interpretation is potentially feasible. At the same time, we note that the orbital period variations resulting from Applegate’s model are sufficiently small to be consistent with the data. We conclude that both larger samples with known physical parameters as well as potential direct probes of the magnetism of the donor star, including cold spots as well as polarization, will be valuable to further constrain the nature of these systems.
Key words: binaries close / stars: variables: general / stars: activity / dynamo
© ESO, 2017