Roche tomography of cataclysmic variables - VII. The long-term magnetic activity of AE Aqr

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

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We present a long-term study of the secondary star in the cataclysmic variable AE Aqr, using Roche tomography to indirectly image starspots on the stellar surface spanning 8 years of observations. The seven maps show an abundance of spot features at both high and low latitudes. We find that all maps have at least one large high-latitude spot region, and we discuss its complex evolution between maps, as well as its compatibility with current dynamo theories. Furthermore, we see the apparent growth in fractional spot coverage, fs, around 45° latitude over the duration of observations, with a persistently high fs near latitudes of 20°. These bands of spots may form as part of a magnetic activity cycle, with magnetic flux tubes emerging at different latitudes, similar to the `butterfly' diagram for the Sun. We discuss the nature of flux tube emergence in close binaries, as well as the activity of AE Aqr in the context of other stars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1858-1874
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date05 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016


  • dynamo
  • stars: activity
  • stars: individual: AE Aqr
  • stars: magnetic field
  • novae
  • cataclysmic variables
  • starspots


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