Cataclysmic Variable stars

Cataclysmic Variable stars (CVs) are binary star systems where an ultra-dense star (a white dwarf) pulls material off of its companion star, steadily consuming it over time. Depending on how strong the magnetic field strength of the white dwarf is, this material might be channelled down onto the surface of the white dwarf via magnetic field lines, or it might spiral down onto the surface and form a disk of accreting material. As part of her research Deanne Coppejans is investigating the physics of this process. In this paper ( ), Deanne and collaborators were investigating whether some of that material can be launched off into space in jets of matter. Higher mass cousins of CVs (the x-ray binaries) do this, but until recently it was thought that CVs did not. These observations from radio telescopes show that CVs are likely launching jets – but more investigation is needed! Deanne and collaborators are continuing to address this question using multi-wavelength observations of CVs. This research uses observations from amateur astronomers across the globe, so if you are interested in astronomy and would like to take observations that make a significant contribution to projects like these, take a look at the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).

Credit: Deanne Coppejans / Northwestern