FUSE and HST ultraviolet observations of the disc wind of RW Sextantis

Prinja, R. K.; Long, K. S.; Froning, C. S.; Knigge, C.; Witherick, D. K.; Clark, J. S. and Ringwald, F. A. (2003). FUSE and HST ultraviolet observations of the disc wind of RW Sextantis. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 340(2) pp. 551–561.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.2003.06307


We present Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite time-series data of the low-inclination, nova-like cataclysmic variable RW Sex. The data span the wavelength range between ∼905 and 1188 Å, which contains the resonance lines of C iii, N iii, S iv, P v, S vi and O vi. All these spectral lines are present in the form of blueshifted absorption components, with no evidence for the lines redward of rest velocity; the FUSE data probe the fast disc-wind of RW Sex. The time-variable nature of these features is established. Substantial line profile variability is observed, confined between ∼−1000 and 0 km s−1 , and modulated on the orbital period of the system (∼0.245 d) . The fundamental characteristics of the temporal behaviour are very similar between the low and high ionization lines. The wind-dominated lines exhibit a cyclic increase in absorption optical depth which is accompanied by a shift in the maximum absorption velocity from ∼−1000 km s−1 to near zero velocity. We argue that the empirical evidence from the FUSE analysis supports an interpretation of blueshifted absorptive changes as opposed to the action of a variable (in velocity) blueshifted (perhaps disc-formed) emission component. This conclusion is further bolstered by an analysis of archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS) data of RW Sex. We discuss a phenomenological picture of the ultraviolet (UV) line profile variability where the symmetry of a confined bipolar wind in RW Sex is broken by assuming that the outflow is oblique, perhaps because it is seated on a warped or tilted disc. The temporal UV absorption properties of non-eclipsing nova-like systems are compared.

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