Matt Wood Astronomy Home


Cataclysmic Variable Research

Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are close interacting binary star systems in which mass typically flows from a low-mass main-sequence secondary star to a white dwarf star. These pages give a brief overview of the work we're doing. Originally we were going to include a full site devoted to discussion of all things CV, but that would duplicate (poorly) what is already available online (Wikipedia,CVCatCV Beginner's GuideNASA HEASARC E/PO), and in the well-written and comprehensive books by Brian Warner and Coel Hellier (both are must-reads, but the latter is more accessible to the non-specialist). No CVs have been directly imaged - they're much to small and distant - but Mark Garlick is an artist who's created some amazing conceptions of CVs and related objects (see image at right).

If you'd like to run some numerical simulations of your own, please download FITDisk, which is a user-friendly demonstration version of our research code.

We model CVs using the method of smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH), a Lagrangian numerical fluid dynamics method. See our publications for details, and see the visualization page for animations of CV superhumps.

This was supported in part by the National Science Foundation through grants AST-0205902, AST-0552798, and AST-1109332 and AST-1305799.