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  1. ABSTRACT

    The evolution of accreting X-ray binary systems is closely coupled to the properties of their donor stars. Consequently, we can constrain the evolutionary track a system is by establishing the nature of its donor. Here, we present far-ultraviolet (far-UV) spectroscopy of the transient neutron-star low-mass X-ray binary J1858 in different accretion states (low-hard, high-hard, and soft). All of these spectra exhibit anomalous N v, C iv, Si iv, and He ii lines, suggesting that its donor star has undergone CNO processing. We also determine the donor’s effective temperature, Td ≃ 5700 K, and radius, Rd ≃ 1.7 R⊙, based on photometric observations obtained during quiescence. Lastly, we leverage the transient nature of the system to set an upper limit of $\dot{M}_{\rm acc} \lesssim 10^{-8.5}~{\rm M}_{\odot }~\mathrm{ yr}^{-1}$ on the present-day mass-transfer rate. Combining these with the orbital period of the system, Porb = 21.3 h, we search for viable evolution paths. The initial donor masses in the allowed solutions span the range 1 M⊙ ≲ Md,i ≲ 3.5 M⊙. All but the lowest masses in this range are consistent with the strong CNO-processing signature in the UV line ratios. The present-day donor mass in the permitted tracks are 0.5 M⊙ ≲ Md,obs ≲ 1.3 M⊙, higher than suggested by eclipse modelling. Since Porb is close to the so-called bifurcation period, both converging and diverging binary tracks are permitted. If the former is confirmed, J1858 will end its life as an ultracompact system with a substellar donor.

     
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  2. Abstract We present a detailed study of the 2019 outburst of the cataclysmic variable V1047 Cen, which hosted a classical nova eruption in 2005. The peculiar outburst occurred 14 yr after the classical nova event and lasted for more than 400 days, reaching an amplitude of around 6 magnitudes in the optical. Early spectral follow-up revealed what could be a dwarf nova (accretion disk instability) outburst. However, the outburst duration, high-velocity (>2000 km s −1 ) features in the optical line profiles, luminous optical emission, and presence of prominent long-lasting radio emission together suggest a phenomenon more exotic and energetic than a dwarf nova outburst. The outburst amplitude, radiated energy, and spectral evolution are also not consistent with a classical nova eruption. There are similarities between V1047 Cen’s 2019 outburst and those of classical symbiotic stars, but pre-2005 images of the field of V1047 Cen indicate that the system likely hosts a dwarf companion, implying a typical cataclysmic variable system. Based on our multiwavelength observations, we suggest that the outburst may have started with a brightening of the disk due to enhanced mass transfer or disk instability, possibly leading to enhanced nuclear shell burning on the white dwarf, which was already experiencing some level of quasi-steady shell burning. This eventually led to the generation of a wind and/or bipolar, collimated outflows. The 2019 outburst of V1047 Cen appears to be unique, and nothing similar has been observed in a typical cataclysmic variable system before, hinting at a potentially new astrophysical phenomenon. 
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  3. ABSTRACT

    Despite being bright (V ≃ 11.8) and nearby (d = 212 pc) ASAS J071404+7004.3 has only recently been identified as a nova-like cataclysmic variable. We present time-resolved optical spectroscopy obtained at the Isaac Newton and the Hiltner and McGraw-Hill Telescopes, together with Swift X-ray and ultraviolet observations. We combined these with TESS photometry and find a period of 3.28 h and a mass transfer rate of $4\!-\!9\times 10^{-9}\, {\mathrm{M_{\odot }\, yr}^{-1}}$. Historical photometry shows at least one low state establishing the system as a VY Scl star. Our high-cadence spectroscopy also revealed rapidly changing winds emanating from the accretion disc. We have modelled these using the Monte Carlo python code and shown that all the emission lines could emanate from the wind – which would explain the lack of double-peaked lines in such systems. In passing, we discuss the effect of variability on the position of cataclysmic variables in the Gaia Hertzsprung–Russell diagram.

     
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  4. The Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project (AGN STORM) on NGC 5548 in 2014 is one of the most intensive multi-wavelength AGN monitoring campaigns ever. For most of the campaign,the emission-line variations followed changes in the continuum with a time lag, as expected. However, the lines varied independently of the observed UV-optical continuum during a 60-70 day holiday, suggesting that unobserved changes to the ionizing continuum were present. To understand this remarkable phenomenon and to obtain an independent assessment of the ionizing continuum variations, we study the intrinsic absorption lines present in NGC 5548. We identify a novel cycle that reproduces the absorption line variability and thus identify the physics that allows the holiday to occur. In this cycle, variations in this obscurer’s line-of-sight covering factor modify the soft X-ray continuum, changing the ionization of helium. Ionizing radiation produced by recombining helium then affects the level of ionization of some ions seen by HST. In particular, high-ionization species are affected by changes in the obscurer covering factor, which does not affect the optical or UV continuum, so appear as uncorrelated changes, a “holiday”. It is likely that any other model which selectively changes the soft X-ray part of the continuum during the holiday can also explain the anomalous emission-line behavior observed. 
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  5. null (Ed.)