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Astron. Astrophys. 338, 933-946 (1998)

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HST/GHRS observations of AM Herculis *

B.T. Gänsicke 1, D.W. Hoard 2, K. Beuermann 1, E.M. Sion 3 and P. Szkody 2

1 Universitäts-Sternwarte, Geismarlandstrasse 11, D-37083 Göttingen, Germany
2 Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
3 Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA

Received 20 April 1998 / Accepted 5 August 1998


We present phase-resolved spectroscopy of AM Herculis obtained with the HST/GHRS when the system was in a high state. The ultraviolet light curve shows a quasi-sinusoidal modulation, which can be explained by a hot spot on the rotating white dwarf. The broad [FORMULA] absorption expected for photospheric radiation of a moderately hot white dwarf is largely filled in with emission. The UV/FUV spectrum of AM Her in high state can be quantitatively understood by a two-component model consisting of the unheated white dwarf plus a blackbody-like radiating hot spot. A kinematic study of the strong UV emission lines using Doppler tomography is presented. The characteristics of the low ionization species lines and the Si IV doublet can be explained within the classical picture, as broad emission from the accretion stream and narrow emission from the heated hemisphere of the secondary. However, we find that the narrow emission of the N V doublet originates from material of low velocity dispersion located somewhere between [FORMULA] and the centre of mass. The high signal-to-noise spectra contain a multitude of interstellar absorption lines but no metal absorption lines from the white dwarf photosphere.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks – line: formation – stars: binaries: spectroscopic – stars: individual: AM Her – stars: white dwarfs – ultraviolet: stars

* Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.

Send offprint requests to: boris@uni-sw.gwdg.de

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: September 17, 1998