NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006A-0046

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Proposal Information for 2006A-0046


PI: Thomas Harrison, New Mexico State University, tharriso@nmsu.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, Box 30001/MSC4500, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003, USA

CoI: Joni Johnson, NMSU
CoI: Doug Hoffman, NMSU
CoI: Jillian Bornak, NMSU
CoI: Joseph Wellhouse, NMSU

Title: Do All ``Fast" Classical Novae Occur on Magnetic White Dwarfs?

Abstract: There are six classical novae that are strongly suspected to harbor white dwarf primaries with strong magnetic fields (B > 8 MG). Such cataclysmic variables are termed ``Polars", or ``AM Her stars''. Five of the six suspected highly magnetic classical novae are classified as having ``fast'' outbursts. \it Does the presence of a strong magnetic field accelerate the thermonuclear runaway? In Polars, the accretion stream is captured close to the secondary star and is funneled onto the magnetic poles of the white dwarf. As the matter flows in along the field lines it cools through cyclotron emission. The observed cyclotron emission is highly dependent on the viewing geometry, and during an orbit, can result in > 1 mag variability in the light curves of Polars. We seek to observe a sample of old and recent fast classical novae using SQIID to search for the large amplitude light curve variations that signal the presence of cyclotron emission. We show that the signature of cyclotron emission can be easily deduced with JHK light curves. Since most Polars have field strengths under 40 MG, the majority of the cyclotron emission is emitted in the near-IR. We request seven nights of SQIID time on the 2.1m to perform full orbital phase coverage for a sample of classical novae.


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