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A study of the accretion flow in eclipsing polars.

Bridge, C.M.; (2004) A study of the accretion flow in eclipsing polars. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the accretion flow in the high magnetic field cataclysmic variables known as polars. I first provide a brief introduction to the subjects discussed in this thesis, followed by an introduction to the instruments used to make the observations: the optical observations were made using the S-Cam 2 superconducting tunnel junction camera and X-ray observations using XMM-Newton. The chapters that follow this are concerned with two polars: HU Aqr and EP Dra. In Chapter 3, I apply an eclipse mapping technique to the optical light curves of HU Aqr to reconstruct the brightness distribution along the accretion flow. In Chapter 4 I discuss the light curves of EP Dra, a system which until now has not been well studied. The light curves of EP Dra all show variability and a unique light curve shape. Based on the observations and the eclipse mapping I make insights into the nature of the accretion flow in these two systems. Chapter 5 presents modelling of the optical light curves of HU Aqr and EP Dra using a technique based on 'genetically modified fire-flies'. Unlike previous techniques to reconstruct the brightness distribution of the accretion flow, this places as few constraints on the location of the material as possible. This is the first time this technique has been applied to observed light curves. In Chapter 6 I present XMM-Newton observations of EP Dra. I use X-ray and simultaneous optical/UV observations to provide a comparison with the observations of Chapter 4, and provide further insights into the accretion flow in this system. Finally, I present model accretion flows irradiated by X-ray emission from the accretion shock. This allows the construction of accretion flow temperature pro-files, the location of different ionized species along the flow, and the construction of theoretical Doppler maps.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A study of the accretion flow in eclipsing polars.
Identifier: PQ ETD:602501
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446576
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