The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


Publication Title

Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society

Document Type


Publication Date



The eclipsing binary FF Aquarii (FF Aqr) consists of a small hot star of uncertain type and a red giant. An Hα feature varies from absorption during eclipse to maximum emission during hot star transit. We have obtained simultaneous differential photometry in BVRI bands and Hα spectroscopy in 1998 that covered an entire orbit with some overlap. A binary star model was used with our light-curve, radial velocity and Hα data to refine stellar and orbital parameters. A new ephemeris indicates that the period has increased or is longer than previously thought. A physically simple algorithm is developed that generates properly blended spectral line profiles of binaries with arbitrary combinations of surface emission and absorption line regions. Although there is no radiative transfer, the algorithm can accommodate modest geometrical intricacy. For now, all line broadening in the model is rotational. The algorithm has now been incorporated within the general Wilson-Devinney binary star model, and we used it to model FF Aqr's photospheric iron profile. It also is used to generate templates that illustrate problems with FF Aqr's strongly time-dependent Hα emission profiles, which appear to be blends of features from the photosphere and from above the photosphere. The dominant broadening mechanism should be rotation for individual line components. Absorption profiles were generated by the model and fit to the observations to yield a red star radius ~6.9 Rsolar, which then requires i~ 76°. Our light-curve models have five spots with temperatures ~1000 K cooler than the surrounding photosphere. Hα emission was modelled on the red star surface, centred at the substellar point to simulate a fluorescent chromosphere. Additional emission is seen outside our modelled profiles. The origins of this excess emission may be corotating prominences, winds, or coronal mass ejections, all of which could affect the orbit period.


NOTICE: This is the PDF of the article published as:

Vacarro, T.R., and R.W. Wilson (2003). "Fluorescence in ultraviolet active binaries: the case of FF Aquarii" Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 342, Issue 2, pp. 564-574.

It is also available online through Oxford University Press and through SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.