Roche tomography of cataclysmic variables - VI. Differential rotation of AE Aqr - not tidally locked!

C. A. Hill, C. A. Watson, T. Shahbaz, D. Steeghs, V. S. Dhillon

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13 Citations (Scopus)


We present Roche tomograms of the K4V secondary star in the cataclysmic variable AE Aqr, reconstructed from two data sets taken 9 d apart, and measure the differential rotation of the stellar surface. The tomograms show many large, cool starspots, including a large high-latitude spot and a prominent appendage down the trailing hemisphere. We find two distinct bands of spots around 22° and 43° latitude, and estimate a spot coverage of 15.4-17 per cent on the Northern hemisphere. Assuming a solar-like differential rotation law, the differential rotation of AE Aqr was measured using two different techniques. The first method yields an equator-pole lap time of 269 d and the second yields a lap time of 262 d. This shows that the star is not fully tidally locked, as was previously assumed for CVs, but has a co-rotation latitude of ˜40°. We discuss the implications that these observations have on stellar dynamo theory, as well as the impact that spot traversal across the L1 point may have on accretion rates in CVs as well as some of their other observed properties. The entropy landscape technique was applied to determine the system parameters of AE Aqr. For the two independent data sets, we find M1 = 1.20 and 1.17 M⊙, M2 = 0.81 and 0.78 M⊙, and orbital inclinations of 50° to 51° at optimal systemic velocities of γ = -64.7 and -62.9 km s-1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-207
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2014


  • stars: activity
  • stars: imaging
  • stars: magnetic field
  • novae
  • cataclysmic variables
  • stars: rotation
  • starspots

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