MOST photometry and DDO spectroscopy of the eclipsing (white dwarf + red dwarf) binary V471 Tau

David Dunlap Observatory, University of Toronto, P.O. Box 360, L4C 4Y6, Ontario, Canada
The Astronomical Journal (Impact Factor: 4.97). 07/2007; DOI: 10.1086/520923
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT The Hyades K2V+WD system 471 Tau is a prototype post-common envelope system and a likely cataclysmic binary progenitor. We present 10 days of nearly continuous optical photometry by the MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars) satellite and partly simultaneous optical spectroscopy from DDO (David Dunlap Observatory) of the binary. The photometric data indicate that the spot coverage of the K dwarf component was less than observed in the past, suggesting that we monitored the star close to a minimum in its activity cycle. Despite the low spot activity, we still detected seven flare-like events whose estimated energies are among the highest ever observed in V471 Tau and whose times of occurrence do not correlate with the binary orbital phase. A detailed O-C analysis of the times of eclipse over the last ~35 years reveals timing variations which could be explained in several ways, including perturbations by an as-yet-undetected third body in the system or by a small orbital eccentricity inducing slow apsidal motion. The DDO spectra result in improved determinations of the K dwarf projected rotation velocity, V_K sin i = 92 km s^-1, and the orbital amplitude, K_K=150.5 km s^-1. The spectra also allow us to measure changes in H_alpha emission strength and radial velocity (RV) variations. We measure a larger H_alpha velocity amplitude than found previously suggesting that the source of the emission in V471 Tau was less concentrated around the sub-white-dwarf point on the K star than had been observed in previous studies.

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