AAS 197, January 2001
Session 60. Stars and Stellar Atmospheres
Oral, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 10:30am-12:00noon, Royal Palm 5/6

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[60.06] Locating Mass Loss: Numerical Modeling of the Structure of Circumstellar Material in Binary Systems

J. L. Hoffman (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)

This dissertation presents a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code optimized for the quantitative modeling of binary star systems with circumstellar and other intrasystem material. The power of this code lies in its ability to treat scattering regions that are optically thick, asymmetric, or nonuniform. It models the observable flux and polarization variations over the course of the binary cycle for a certain geometrical matter configuration and viewing angle. Especially in cases where some system parameters are known from light-curve analysis, comparison of these models with polarimetric observations can help locate and describe gas within the system, providing insights into the nature of mass loss and nonconservative evolution in close binaries.

As a test case, my collaborators and I have applied our Monte Carlo code to the interacting eclipsing binary \beta Lyrae. Motivated by the discovery of a jet or outflow perpendicular to the thick accretion disk in the system, we have modeled these circumstellar matter configurations in order to understand how they produce the observed polarization phase curves of \beta Lyr. This model may also be used to predict the polarization characteristics of similar binary systems viewed at non-eclipsing inclinations. The Monte Carlo code can also be applied to various other systems with complex geometries, such as pre-main-sequence binaries, novae and supernovae, and active galactic nuclei.

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.sal.wisc.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@sal.wisc.edu

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