Hot white dwarfs and the UV delay in dwarf novae

Research paper by J. -M. Hameury, J. -P. Lasota, G. Dubus

Indexed on: 31 Aug '98Published on: 31 Aug '98Published in: Astrophysics


We calculate the effect of illumination of dwarf nova accretion discs by radiation from a hot, central, white dwarf. We show that only for very hot white dwarfs (Teff ~ 40 000$ K) the inner region of quiescent dwarf nova discs are partially depleted so that the delay between the rise to outburst of the optical and UV fluxes would be increased as suggested recently by King (1997). This depletion, however, must create several small outbursts between main outbursts, contrary to observations. Lower white dwarf temperatures may cause the outburts to be of the `inside-out' type removing the UV delay. We conclude that white dwarf irradiation of dwarf nova discs is not very efficient for example because the UV radiation from the hot white dwarf does not penetrate deep enough in the disc atmosphere. The total ablation of the inner disc by e.g. evaporation (possibly related to illumination) appears to be a very promising possibility, accounting for both the EUV delay and the general lightcurves properties.