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Measuring the masses of magnetic white dwarfs: A NuSTAR Legacy Survey

Presentation #100.01 in the session “Stellar/Compact I (Oral)”.

Published onApr 01, 2022
Measuring the masses of magnetic white dwarfs: A NuSTAR Legacy Survey

The hard X-ray spectrum of magnetic cataclysmic variables can be modelled to provide a measurement of white dwarf mass. This method is complementary to radial velocity measurements, which depend on the (typically rather uncertain) binary inclination. Here, we present results from a Legacy Survey of 19 magnetic cataclysmic variables with NuSTAR. We fit accretion column models to their 20-78 keV spectra and derive the white dwarf masses. We find that the mass distribution of accreting magnetic white dwarfs is consistent with that of white dwarfs in non-magnetic cataclysmic variables. Both peak at a higher mass than the distributions of isolated white dwarfs and post-common-envelope binaries, suggesting that accreting white dwarfs are typically more massive than their non-accreting counterparts. We speculate as to why that might be the case, proposing that consequential angular momentum losses may play a role in accreting magnetic white dwarfs and/or that our knowledge of how the white dwarf mass changes over accretion-nova cycles may also be incomplete.

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