Nova-like Cataclysmic Variables in the Infrared

D. W. Hoard, Knox S. Long, Steve B. Howell, Stefanie Wachter, Carolyn S. Brinkworth, Christian Knigge, J.E. Drew, Paula Szkody, S. Kafka, Kunegunda Belle, David R. Ciardi, Cynthia S. Froning, Gerard T. van Belle, M. L. Pretorius

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Novalike cataclysmic variables have persistently high mass transfer rates and prominent steady state accretion disks. We present an analysis of infrared observations of twelve novalikes obtained from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer All Sky Survey. The presence of an infrared excess at >3-5 microns over the expectation of a theoretical steady state accretion disk is ubiquitous in our sample. The strength of the infrared excess is not correlated with orbital period, but shows a statistically significant correlation (but shallow trend) with system inclination that might be partially (but not completely) linked to the increasing view of the cooler outer accretion disk and disk rim at higher inclinations. We discuss the possible origin of the infrared excess in terms of emission from bremsstrahlung or circumbinary dust, with either mechanism facilitated by the mass outflows (e.g., disk wind/corona, accretion stream overflow, and so on) present in novalikes. Our comparison of the relative advantages and disadvantages of either mechanism for explaining the observations suggests that the situation is rather ambiguous, largely circumstantial, and in need of stricter observational constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Number of pages24
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • accretion accretion disks
  • circumstellar matter
  • infrared: stars
  • novae cataclysmic variables
  • stars: individual (TT Ari WX Ari QU Car V592 Cas V442 Oph V347 Pup V3885 Sgr VY Scl RW Sex RW Tri UX UMa IX Vel


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