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Astron. Astrophys. 331, 179-186 (1998)

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IUE low-resolution observations of the triple system CH Cygni: the mass transfer in the symbiotic pair *

A. Skopal ** 1, 2, M.F. Bode 3, H.M. Lloyd 3 and H. Drechsel 1

1 Astronomisches Institut der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Sternwartstr. 7, D-96049 Bamberg, Germany
2 Astronomický ústav Slovenskej akadémie vied, SK-059 60 Tatranská Lomnica, Slovakia
3 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK

Received 20 October 1997 / Accepted 30 October 1997


We present and analyse UV low-resolution spectra of CH Cyg taken during the whole period of the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) mission. Our analysis of the variation in the UV/optical hot star continuum confirmed the basic scenario of sporadic accretion in the symbiotic pair of the triple-star system as being responsible for maintaining its activity.

During active phases, the hot continuum consists of two components. The first, far-UV emission, can be associated with a region where the material from the giant star in the symbiotic pair impacts the accreting matter around the hot star. The second, seen in the near-UV ([FORMULA] 2200 Å) and the optical UBV region, can be produced by the accretion process onto the central star. Emission here shows characteristic temperatures of 6500 - 8700 K. Both sources require an equivalent mass transfer rate of [FORMULA] during the 1979-84 maximum, and about of 2 [FORMULA] in the 1992-95 active phase for derived parameters of the hot component in the triple-star system. Variation in the luminosities of both sources suggests that the basic physical principles of mass transfer in CH Cyg are similar to those of cataclysmic variables (CVs).

Key words: binaries: symbiotic – stars: individual: CH Cygni – ultraviolet: stars

* Based on observations by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite taken at the Villafranca Satellite Tracking Station of the European Space Agency
** Visiting Astronomer, Liverpool John Moores University

Send offprint requests to: A. Skopal

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: February 4, 1998