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Journal Articles Nature Communications Year : 2016

Laboratory analogue of a supersonic accretion column in a binary star system

Abstract

Astrophysical flows exhibit rich behaviour resulting from the interplay of different forms of energy-gravitational, thermal, magnetic and radiative. For magnetic cataclysmic variable stars, material from a late, main sequence star is pulled onto a highly magnetized (B410 MG) white dwarf. The magnetic field is sufficiently large to direct the flow as an accretion column onto the poles of the white dwarf, a star subclass known as AM Herculis. A stationary radiative shock is expected to form 100-1,000 km above the surface of the white dwarf, far too small to be resolved with current telescopes. Here we report the results of a laboratory experiment showing the evolution of a reverse shock when both ionization and radiative losses are important. We find that the stand-off position of the shock agrees with radiation hydrodynamic simulations and is consistent, when scaled to AM Herculis star systems, with theoretical predictions.
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hal-02338839 , version 1 (21-08-2020)

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J. Cross, G. Gregori, J. Foster, P. Graham, J. -M. Bonnet-Bidaud, et al.. Laboratory analogue of a supersonic accretion column in a binary star system. Nature Communications, 2016, 7 (1), ⟨10.1038/ncomms11899⟩. ⟨hal-02338839⟩
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