Volume 642, October 2020
|Number of page(s)||21|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||13 October 2020|
The various accretion modes of AM Herculis: Clues from multi-wavelength observations in high accretion states⋆
Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
Accepted: 6 August 2020
We report on XMM-Newton and NuSTAR X-ray observations of the prototypical polar, AM Herculis, supported by ground-based photometry and spectroscopy, all obtained in high accretion states. In 2005, AM Herculis was in its regular mode of accretion, showing a self-eclipse of the main accreting pole. X-ray emission during the self-eclipse was assigned to a second pole through its soft X-ray emission and not to scattering. In 2015, AM Herculis was in its reversed mode with strong soft blobby accretion at the far accretion region. The blobby acretion region was more luminous than the other, persistently accreting, therefore called main region. Hard X-rays from the main region did not show a self-eclipse indicating a pronounced migration of the accretion footpoint. Extended phases of soft X-ray extinction through absorption in interbinary matter were observed for the first time in AM Herculis. The spectral parameters of a large number of individual soft flares could be derived. Simultaneous NuSTAR observations in the reversed mode of accretion revealed clear evidence for Compton reflection of radiation from the main pole at the white dwarf surface. This picture is supported by the trace of the Fe resonance line at 6.4 keV through the whole orbit. Highly ionized oxygen lines observed with the Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS) were tentatively located at the bottom of the accretion column, although the implied densities are quite different from expectations. In the regular mode of accretion, the phase-dependent modulations in the ultraviolet (UV) are explained with projection effects of an accretion-heated spot at the prime pole. In the reversed mode projection effects cannot be recognized. The light curves reveal an extra source of UV radiation and extended UV absorbing dips. An Hα Doppler map obtained contemporaneously with the NuSTAR and XMM-Newton observations in 2015 lacks the typical narrow emission line from the donor star but reveals emission from an accretion curtain in all velocity quadrants, indicating widely dispersed matter in the magnetosphere.
Key words: novae, cataclysmic variables / stars: individual: AM Herculis / X-rays: binaries
Based on observations obtained with XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA member states and NASA. Based on data obtained with the STELLA robotic telescopes in Tenerife, an AIP (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam) facility jointly operated by AIP and IAC (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias). Based on observations collected at the Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto, operated jointly by the Max-Planck Institut für Astronomie and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). Based also on the effort of 35 amateurs distributed worldwide, and organized by the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) who contributed photometric observations.
© ESO 2020
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