The emergence of negative superhumps in cataclysmic variables: Smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations
Thomas, David M.
Wood, Matt A.
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Negative superhumps are believed to arise in cataclysmic variable systems when the accretion disk is tilted with respect to the orbital plane. Slow retrograde precession of the line-of-nodes results in a signal—the negative superhump—with a period slightly less than the orbital period. Previous studies have shown that tilted disks exhibit negative superhumps, but a consensus on how a disk initially tilts has not been reached. Analytical work by Lai (1999, ApJ, 524, 1030) suggests that a magnetic field on the primary can lead to a tilt instability in a disk when the dipole moment is offset in angle from the spin axis of the primary and when the primary’s spin axis is, itself, not aligned with the angular momentum axis of the binary orbit. However, Lai did not apply his work to the formation of negative superhumps. In this paper, we add Lai’s model to an existing smoothed particle hydrodynamics code. Using this code, we demonstrate the emergence of negative superhumps in the “light curve” for a range of magnetic dipole moments. We show that the period deficits calculated from these negative superhumps match those in simulations using manually tilted disks. When positive superhumps appear (q ^<_~ 0.33), we show that the period excesses calculated from these signals are also consistent with previous results. Using examples, we show that the disks are tilted, though the tilt varies periodically, and that they precess in the retrograde direction. The magnetic fields found to lead to the emergence of negative superhumps lie in the kilogauss regime.