Photometry and Multipolar Magnetic Field Modeling of Polars: BY Camelopardalis and FL Ceti

P. A. Mason, A. G. Zhilkin, D. V. Bisikalo, S. Gomez, J. Morales, E. L. Robinson


We present new broad band optical photometry of two magnetic cataclysmic variable stars, the asynchronous polar BY Camelopardalis and the short period polar FL Ceti. Observations were obtained at the 2.1-m Otto Struve Telescope of McDonald Observatory with 3s and 1s integration times respectively. In an attempt to understand the observed complex changes in accretion flow geometry observed in BY Cam, we performed full 3D MHD simulations assuming a variety of white dwarf magnetic field structures. We investigate fields with increasing complexity including both aligned and non-aligned dipole plus quadrupole field components. We compare model predictions with photometry at various phases of the beat cycle and find that synthetic light curves derived from a multipolar field structure are broadly consistent with optical photometry. FL Ceti is observed to have two very small accretion regions at the foot-points of the white dwarf’s magnetic field. Both accretion regions are visible at the same time in the high state and are about 100 degrees apart. MHD modeling using a dipole plus quadrupole field structure yields quite similar accretion regions as those observed in FL Ceti. We conclude that accretion flows calculated from MHD modeling of multi-polar magnetic fields produce synthetic light curves consistent with photometry of these magnetic cataclysmic variables.


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ISSN 2336-5382 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague