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Session 30 - Amateurs & Professionals: Collaborators in the New Age of Electronic Astronomy.
Display session, Tuesday, June 10
South Main Hall,

[30.08] Backyard Research on Cataclysmic Variables and X-ray Binaries by a Consortium of Professional and Amateur Astronomers

T. Vanmunster (Center for Backyard Astrophysics Belgium)

The Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA) is a multi-longitude network of small photometric telescopes, owned by talented amateurs, who study periodic phenomena in Cataclysmic Variables (CVs) and X-ray Binaries. Mentor of the CBA is Columbia University astronomer Joe Patterson, who directs the collaboration and analyzes the photometric CCD data. The CBA is among the leading examples of successful partnerships between professionals and amateurs, producing vast amounts of high-quality data. This poster highlights a few of our remarkable achievements.

On 6 continents, we study the physical properties of CVs through three types of periodic phenomena in their light curves:

ORBITAL PERIODS. They are easily measured in eclipsing systems. We are creating an opus of eclipse timings over many decades, to study the timescale and amplitude of the wiggles in O-C diagrams.

ROTATIONAL PERIODS. They are a primary resource for studying the interaction of accreting gas with a white dwarf magnetosphere in DQ Her stars. We have already discovered half of the known DQ Her stars.

SUPERHUMP PERIODS. Superhumps are large-amplitude photometric modulations at periods a few percent displaced from the orbital period. The CBA discovered new superhump periods in 10 CVs and scuttled some popular superhump myths:

A long campaign on the dwarf nova CN Ori showed that common superhumps appear during EVERY outburst of the star.

RZ LMi displayed superhumps that remained visible BETWEEN superoutbursts.

V603 Aql showed both positive and NEGATIVE superhump periods.

We are now convinced that superhumps are an extensive property of most CVs.

The CBA network has an exciting future. More stations are being added, existing nodes are converted to robotic operation and sparkling future projects are waiting to be explored.

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Program listing for Tuesday