VV Puppis in a low state: Secondary-star irradiation or stellar activity?

E. Mason, S. B. Howell, T. Barman, P. Szkody, D. Wickramasinghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Aims. Emission lines in polars show complex profiles with multiple components that are typically ascribed to the accretion stream, threading region, accretion spot, and the irradiated secondary-star. In low-state polars the fractional contribution by the accretion stream, and the accretion spot is greatly reduced offering an opportunity to study the effect of the secondary-star irradiation or stellar activity. We observed VV Pup during an exceptional low-state to study and constrain the properties of the line-forming regions and to search for evidence of chromospheric activity and/or irradiation.Methods. We obtained phase-resolved optical spectra at the ESO VLT+FORS1 with the aim of analyzing the emission line profile and radial velocity as a function of the orbital period. We also tailored irradiated secondary-star models to compare the predicted and the observed emission lines and to establish the nature of the line-forming regions.Results. Our observations and data analysis, when combined with models of the irradiated secondary-star, show that, while the weak low ionization metal lines (FeI and MgI) may be consistent with irradiation processes, the dominant Balmer H emission lines, as well as NaI and HeI, cannot be reproduced by the irradiated secondary-star models. We favor the secondary-star chromospheric activity as the main forming region and cause of the observed H, NaI, and He emission lines, though a threading region very close to the L1 point cannot be excluded. .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Line: profiles
  • Novae, cataclysmic variables
  • Stars: chromospheres
  • Stars: individiual: VV Puppis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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