The class of Double Period Variables (DPVs) consists of close interacting binaries, with a characteristic long period that is an order of magnitude longer than the corresponding orbital period, many of them with a characteristic ratio of about 3.5×10^1. We consider here the possibility that the accretion flow is modulated as a result of a magnetic dynamo cycle. Due to the short binary separations, we expect the rotation of the donor star to be synchronized with the rotation of the binary due to tidal locking. We here present a model to estimate the dynamo number and the resulting relation between the activity cycle length and the orbital period, as well as an estimate for the modulation of the mass transfer rate. The latter is based on Applegate’s scenario, implying cyclic changes in the radius of the donor star and thus in the mass transfer rate as a result of magnetic activity. Our model is applied to a sample of 17 systems with known physical parameters, 10 also with known orbital periods. In spite of the uncertainties of our simplified framework, the results show a reasonable agreement, indicating that a dynamo interpretation is potentially feasible. At the same time, we note that the orbital period variations resulting from Applegate’s model are sufficiently small to be consistent with the data. We conclude that both larger samples with known physical parameters as well as potential direct probes of the magnetism of the donor star, including cold spots as well as polarization, will be valuable to further constrain the nature of these systems.
D. Schleicher and R. Mennickent
Tue, 14 Mar 17
Comments: 10 pages, 2 tables, 1 figure, accepted for publication with A&A