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A magnetic white dwarf in a detached eclipsing binary

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  • Physics


SDSS J030308.35+005444.1 is a close, detached, eclipsing white dwarf plus M dwarf binary which shows a large infrared excess which has been interpreted in terms of a circumbinary dust disc. In this paper, we present optical and near-infrared photometric and spectroscopic data for this system. At optical wavelengths, we observe heated pole caps from the white dwarf caused by accretion of wind material from the main-sequence star on to the white dwarf. At near-infrared wavelengths, we see the eclipse of two poles on the surface of the white dwarf by the main-sequence star indicating that the white dwarf is magnetic. Our spectroscopic observations reveal Zeeman-split emission lines in the hydrogen Balmer series, which we use to measure the magnetic field strength as 8 MG. This measurement indicates that the cyclotron lines are located in the infrared, naturally explaining the infrared excess without the need for a circumbinary dust disc. We also detect magnetically confined material located roughly midway between the two stars. Using measurements of the radial velocity amplitude and rotational broadening of the M star, we constrain the physical parameters of the system, a first for a magnetic white dwarf, and the location of the poles on the surface of the white dwarf. SDSS J030308.35+005444.1 is a pre-cataclysmic variable that will likely evolve into an intermediate polar in ∼1 Gyr.

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