CBA Center for Backyard Astrophysics

Superhumps in Cataclysmic Binaries. XXIII. V442 Ophiuchi and RX J1643.7+3402

Joseph Patterson, William Fenton, John Thorstensen, David Harvey, David Skillman, Robert Fried, Berto Monard, Darragh O'Donoghue, Edward Beshore, Brian Martin, Panos Nirachos, Tonny Vanmunster, Jerry Foote, Greg Bolt, Robert Rea, Lewis Cook, Neil Butterworth, and Matt Wood

Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

December 2002, Volume 114, Page 1364

We report the results of long observing campaigns on two novalike variables: V442 Ophiuchi and RX J1643.7+3402. These stars have high-excitation spectra, complex line profiles signifying mass loss at particular orbital phases, and similar orbital periods (respectively 0.12433 and 0.12056 d). They are well-credentialed members of the SW Sex class of cataclysmic variables. Their light curves are also quite complex. V442 Oph shows periodic signals with periods of 0.12090(8) and 4.37(15) days, and RX J1643.7+3402 shows similar signals at 0.11696(8) d and 4.05(12) d. We interpret these short and long periods respectively as a "negative superhump" and the wobble period of the accretion disk. The superhump could then possibly arise from the heating of the secondary (and structures fixed in the orbital frame) by inner-disk radiation, which reaches the secondary relatively unimpeded since the disk is not coplanar.

At higher frequencies, both stars show another type of variability: quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) with a period near 1000 seconds. Underlying these strong signals of low stability may be weak signals of higher stability. Similar QPOs, and negative superhumps, are quite common features in SW Sex stars. Both can in principle be explained by ascribing strong magnetism to the white dwarf member of the binary; and we suggest that SW Sex stars are borderline AM Herculis binaries, usually drowned by a high accretion rate. This would provide an ancestor channel for AM Hers, whose origin is still mysterious.

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