Breaking the Degeneracy in Magnetic Cataclysmic Variable X-Ray Spectral Modeling Using X-Ray Light Curves

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2021

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American Astronomical Society (Aas)

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item.page.issne

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Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia

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We present an analysis of mock X-ray spectra and light curves of magnetic cataclysmic variables using an upgraded version of the 3D cyclops code. This 3D representation of the accretion flow allows us to properly model total and partial occultation of the postshock region by the white dwarf as well as the modulation of the X-ray light curves due to the phase-dependent extinction of the preshock region. We carried out detailed postshock region modeling in a four-dimensional parameter space by varying the white dwarf mass and magnetic field strength as well as the magnetosphere radius and the specific accretion rate. To calculate the postshock region temperature and density profiles, we assumed equipartition between ions and electrons; took into account the white dwarf gravitational potential, the finite size of the magnetosphere, and a dipole-like magnetic field geometry; and considered cooling by both bremsstrahlung and cyclotron radiative processes. By investigating the impact of the parameters on the resulting X-ray continuum spectra, we show that there is an inevitable degeneracy in the four-dimensional parameter space investigated here, which compromises X-ray continuum spectral fitting strategies and can lead to incorrect parameter estimates. However, the inclusion of X-ray light curves in different energy ranges can break this degeneracy, and it therefore remains, in principle, possible to use X-ray data to derive fundamental parameters of magnetic cataclysmic variables, which represents an essential step toward understanding their formation and evolution.

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CATACLYSMIC VARIABLE STARS, MAGNETIC VARIABLE STARS

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© 2021. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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