AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 19 Cataclysmic Variable Stars
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[19.14] Infrared Light Curves of Cataclysmic Variables: Estimating Orbital Inclinations

J. J. Johnson, T. E. Harrison, R. Campbell (NMSU), S. B. Howell (NOAO/WIYN)

We have used SQIID on the KPNO 2.1 m to amass phase-resolved infrared (JHK) light curves for 40 cataclysmic variables (CVs). We have also obtained BVRI light curves for all of these systems using the NMSU 1m telescope. The goal of this project is to model the ellipsoidal variations to determine the orbital inclinations of the program CVs. By knowing the orbital inclination, the orbital period, and the radial and rotational velocity of the secondary star, we can directly determine the masses for both stellar components in these systems. Many of these CV systems have significant accretion disk emission components. Since the amplitude of the ellipsoidal variations for the late-type secondary stars in CVs are almost wavelength independent, we can attempt to deconvolve the spectral energy distribution of the accretion disk (+ white dwarf) by estimating the wavelength-dependent dilution of the ellipsoidal variations due to the other sources of luminosity in these systems. Among our preliminary results is the infrared light curve of SS Cygni which displays a brief, low-amplitude eclipse-like feature at binary orbital phase 0.4 that appears superposed on the strong ellipsoidal variations. We present light curve models for several CV systems generated using the WD98 program. Using the WD98 program, we estimate an orbital inclination of 40o for SS Cygni.

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