PI: Ryan Campbell, CTIO/NOAO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Astronomy Department, 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
CoI: REU/PIA Students, CTIO/NOAO
CoI: R. Chris Smith, CTIO/NOAO
CoI: Nicole S. van der Bliek, CTIO/NOAO
Title: CTIO REU/PIA Observations: Photometry of Polars
Abstract: We request 8 nights on the CTIO 1.0-m as part of the upcoming 2010 CTIO REU/PIA program. The main focus of this proposal will be to provide direct, hands-on observational experience to eight undergraduate students in observational techniques, astronomical data reduction, and multi-wavelength photometry. We will observe a sample of 15 - 20 polars. Polars are a subset of interacting binary stars, where the primary WD is highly magnetic and is thus able to prevent the formation of an accretion disk. Instead, the accreting material is ushered to the magnetic poles of the WD, where a standing hydrodynamic shock is formed, which emits cyclotron radiation at optical/NIR wavelengths. Consequently, the lightcurve displays dramatic phase-dependent morphology with (Delta) m=+/-1. We will obtain BVRI lightcurves for each of the polars in our sample. The short orbital periods of these systems (1.5 - 4 hours) allows for a unique pedagogical opportunity; to actually see action happening in an astronomical source.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360