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Title: CSS1603+19: a low-mass polar near the cataclysmic variable period minimum

CSS1603+19 is a cataclysmic variable (CV) with an orbital period of 81.96 min, near the minimal period of CVs. It is unusual in having a strong mid-infrared excess inconsistent with thermal emission from a brown dwarf companion. Here, we present time-resolved multiwavelength observations of this system. WISE photometry indicates that the mid-infrared excess displays a one-magnitude eclipsing-like variability during the orbit. We obtained near-infrared and optical spectroscopy using Gemini, MDM, and APO telescopes. Near-infrared spectra show possible cyclotron features indicating that the white dwarf has a magnetic field of about 5 MG. Optical and near-infrared spectra display double-peaked emission lines, with both components showing strong radial velocity variations during the orbital period and with the broad component leading the narrow component stably by about 0.2 of the orbital phase. We construct a physical model informed by existing observations of the system and determine that one component likely originates from the accretion column on to the magnetized white dwarf in synchronous rotation with the orbital motion and the other from the Roche overflow point. This allows us to constrain the masses of the binary components to be M1 > 0.24 M⊙ for the white dwarf accretor and M2 = 0.0644 ± 0.0074 M⊙ for the donor. We classify the system as an AM Herculis star, or a polar. It has likely completed its stint on the period gap, but has not yet gone through the period bounce.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2719-2731
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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