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Session 109 - Novae & Cataclysmic Variables.
Display session, Saturday, January 10
Exhibit Hall,

[109.07] Using Cataclysmic Variables as a Probe of the Mass Ratio Distribution in Zero-Age Main Sequence Binaries

M. Politano (Ariz. St. U.), U. Kolb (U. Leicester)

The distribution of mass ratios in zero-age main sequence binaries (hereafter, the initial mass ratio distribution [IMRD]) is a quantity which is poorly constrained observationally, especially at somewhat extreme mass ratios (\ga 5). Theoretical models of the cataclysmic variable (CV) population are quite sensitive to the assumed IMRD in binaries. In addition, CVs are predicted to form only from progenitor binaries with mass ratios \ga 4. Consequently, comparisons between the properties of theoretical models of the CV population and the properties of observational distributions of CVs may provide useful constraints on the IMRD in binaries with intermediate mass primaries (\la 10 M_odot) and orbital periods in the range 10-1000 days. In this paper, we discuss the results of such a comparative study in which we have used a population synthesis code which allows different IMRDs to be tested, and a segmented IMRD function which allows the relative effect of different initial mass ratio intervals on the population to be investigated.

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