We present highly time-resolved HST FOS UV spectroscopy of the nova-like binary V795 Her. Several key results emerge. For the first time we find a strong 2.6-h signature in the variability of the UV lines. The HST data reveal no evidence of a 4.8-h ‘period’, in contrast to our previous IUE observations. This, and differences in the spectral line characteristics, suggests that HST found the system in a different state from earlier IUE observations. The C IV line alone contains a fairly stable, asymmetric, extended blueward absorption trough which we associate with a wind outflow. The 2.6-h variations of the line profiles are largely confined to an interval of about 0.4 in phase and to the velocity regime −1500 < v < 0 km s−1, the changes being dominated by the apparent decline and re-emergence of a blueshifted emission peak. The complex profiles permit many empirical interpretations, but the simplest attributes the variability to a narrow (FWHM∼1000 km s−1) emission component which is always blueshifted with a mean velocity of around –600 km s−1. This interpretation, however, is not readily related to any obvious source within the binary. An alternative picture, which attempts to relate the UV and (simultaneously observed) optical line behaviour, invokes a more stable, broad (FWHM∼2000 km s−1) emission feature, the intrinsic morphology of which is disguised by superposed constant and variable absorption components. One tentative physical explanation of such a decomposition involves an accretion stream that overflows the accretion disc. However, several problems with this model remain to be resolved. We also draw attention to similarities between the velocity-restricted behaviour in the UV lines of V795 Her and that in the optical lines of T Tauri stars. This might indicate a connection between V795 Her and the magnetically influenced inflow/outflow characteristics associated with the central star in T Tauri systems. If such a connection were eventually demonstrated, it would reopen the question of whether the 2.6-h period in V795 Her is really the binary period and whether the system is in fact related to the intermediate polars.
- accretion discs
- cataclysmic variables