Cataclysmic Variable Stars
How and Why They Vary
Cataclysmic variable stars are the most variable stars in the night sky, fluctuating in brightness continually on timescales from seconds to hours to weeks to years.
Although these brightness changes can be recorded using amateur telescopes, they are also the subject of intensive study by professional astronomers. That study has led to an understanding of cataclysmic variables as binary stars, orbiting so closely that material transfers from one star to the other. The resulting process of accretion is one of
the most important in astrophysics.
This book presents the first account of cataclysmic variables at an introductory level. Assuming an astronomy/astrophysics background but no previous knowledge of the field, it explains the basic principles underlying the variability and provides an extensive compilation of cataclysmic variable light curves.
Written for undergraduates, novice researchers and serious amateur astronomers, the main text can be understood by someone with little mathematical background. Supplementary boxes present technical details and equations at a level suitable for undergraduates.
Table of contents:
- Observing cataclymic variables
- The orbital cycle
- Spectral characteristics
- The evolution of cataclymic variables
- Discs and outbursts
- Elliptical discs and superoutbursts
- Siphons, winds and streams
- Magnetic cataclymic variables II: intermediate polars
- Flickering and oscillations
- The nova eruption
- Secondary star variations
- Variations on the theme
- Deriving the stellar masses
- Note on units and symbols
- Time conventions
- Variable star nomenclature
- Variable star organisations
- List of cataclysmic variables
- Object index
Praxis Publishing - Leaders in Scientific Publishing © 2008 All rights reserved