REVIEW: Fireballs, Flares and Flickering
Pearson, K.J., Horne, K. and Skidmore, W. (2004) REVIEW: Fireballs, Flares and Flickering. ASP Conference Proceedings, 315. pp. 279-292. (Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables, IAU Colloquium 190, Proceedings of the Conference held 8-13 December, 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa. Edited by Sonja Vrielmann and Mark Cropper.)
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We review our understanding of the prototype ``Propeller'' system AE Aqr and we examine its flaring behaviour in detail. The flares are thought to arise from collisions between high density regions in the material expelled from the system after interaction with the rapidly rotating magnetosphere of the white dwarf. We show calculations of the time-dependent emergent optical spectra from the resulting hot, expanding ball of gas and derive values for the mass, lengthscale and temperature of the material involved. We see that the fits suggest that the secondary star in this system has reduced metal abundances and that, counter-intuitively, the evolution of the fireballs is best modelled as isothermal.