Cataclysmic Variables: The Most Common Gravity Powered Stars
Cataclysmic variable stars (CVs) are close binaries in which a white dwarf star accretes matter from a companion via Roche lobe overflow; they are the white-dwarf analogues of the low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). CVs have a rich phenomenology and show many astrophysically interesting effects. While CVs are less exotic than LMXBs, and generally less luminous owing to their relatively shallow gravitational wells, they are far more common, so there are many relatively nearby examples available for detailed study. In this brief review I will explore the elaborate phenomenology these objects exhibit, and the taxonomy that results, and move on to consider how these objects work physically and how they may have formed and evolved.
Date: Friday, 24 April 2009 Time: 14:00 Where: McGill University Ernest Rutherford Physics Building, room 326