Circular polarization survey of intermediate polars I. Northern targets in the range 17 h < RA < 23 h

Butters, O. W.; Katajainen, S.; Norton, A. J.; Lehto, H. J. and Piirola, V. (2009). Circular polarization survey of intermediate polars I. Northern targets in the range 17 h < RA < 23 h. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 496(3) pp. 891–902.



Context. The origin, evolution, and ultimate fate of magnetic cataclysmic variables are poorly understood. It is largely the nature of the magnetic fields in these systems that leads to this poor understanding. Fundamental properties, such as the field strength and the axis alignment, are unknown in a majority of these systems.

Aims. We undertake to put all the previous circular polarization measurements into context and systematically survey intermediate polars for signs of circular polarization, hence to get an indication of their true magnetic field strengths and try to understand the evolution of magnetic cataclysmic variables.

Methods. We used the TurPol instrument at the Nordic Optical Telescope to obtain simultaneous UBVRI photo-polarimetric observations of a set of intermediate polars, during the epoch 2006 July 31–August 2.

Results. Of this set of eight systems two ( 1RXS J213344.1+510725 and 1RXS J173021.5–055933 ) were found to show significant levels of circular polarization, varying with spin phase. Five others ( V2306 Cyg , AO Psc , DQ Her , FO Aqr , and V1223 Sgr ) show some evidence for circular polarization and variation of this with spin phase, whilst AE Aqr shows little evidence for polarized emission. We also report the first simultaneous UBVRI photometry of the newly identified intermediate polar 1RXS J173021.5–055933.

Conclusions. Circular polarization may be ubiquitous in intermediate polars, albeit at a low level of one or two percent or less. It is stronger at longer wavelengths in the visible spectrum. Our results lend further support to the possible link between the presence of soft X-ray components and the detectability of circular polarization in intermediate polars

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