AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 25. Circumstellar Material and Mass Loss
Oral, Monday, January 6, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 602-604

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[25.05D] Locating Mass Loss: Numerical Modeling of Circumstellar Material in Binary Systems

Jennifer L. Hoffman (Rice University)

This dissertation presents a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code optimized for the quantitative modeling of binary star systems with circumstellar and other intrasystem material. It models the observable flux and polarization variations over the course of the binary cycle for a certain geometrical matter configuration and viewing angle. With this code, I have investigated the polarimetric signatures of accretion disks in generalized binary systems and described the variation of key polarimetric features with disk geometrical and optical properties. Especially in cases where some system parameters are known from light-curve analysis, comparison of these model results with polarimetric observations can help locate and describe gas within the binary system, providing insights into the nature of mass loss and nonconservative evolution in close binaries.

As a test case, I have used the code to create detailed models of the eclipsing interacting binary \beta Lyr. By comparing the models with spectropolarimetric observations, I constrain the opening angle and albedo of the disk and find that its optical depth must vary with distance from the disk midplane. I also conclude that the polarization contributions from the mass-losing star and disk are not sufficient to reproduce the observed V-band polarized light curve of \beta Lyr. This implies that the mass-gaining star, which does not contribute appreciably to the light curve of the system, must nevertheless be the source of a significant fraction of the total polarization of the system.

This dissertation research has been supported in part by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and Sigma Xi.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~jhoffman. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jhoffman@rice.edu

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