Probing the properties of the fastest spinning white dwarf star in the Galaxy.

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Description

We propose the study of the magnetic interacting binary star system AE Aqr, one of the most interesting binary stars due to its extreme physical properties. AE Aqr hosts the fastest spinning white dwarf star known in the galaxy with a period of just 33 seconds. Furthermore, it is found that this period is increasing, indicating that the white dwarf is spinning down with time. Determining the rate at which the white dwarf spins down will help to distinguish between different physical models and provide insights into the underlying physics of the spinning down mechanism. For example, it might be possible to distinguish between models that require a magnetic propeller in order to expel large amounts of energy from the binary system, or models that require an erratic flow of material from the companion star. Due to the relatively low brightness of the source we request the purchase of a new telescope instrument to be able to carry out the required observations. The new instrument will greatly enhance the capabilities of the Physics Department to conduct world class astronomical research and teaching and will help establish the role of SQU as a leading institution in astronomy in the GCC region.

Layman's description

We propose the study of the magnetic interacting binary star system AE Aqr, one of the most interesting binary stars due to its extreme physical properties. AE Aqr hosts the fastest spinning white dwarf star known in the galaxy with a period of just 33 seconds. Furthermore, it is found that this period is increasing, indicating that the white dwarf is spinning down with time. Determining the rate at which the white dwarf spins down will help to distinguish between different physical models and provide insights into the underlying physics of the spinning down mechanism. For example, it might be possible to distinguish between models that require a magnetic propeller in order to expel large amounts of energy from the binary system, or models that require an erratic flow of material from the companion star. Due to the relatively low brightness of the source we request the purchase of a new telescope instrument to be able to carry out the required observations. The new instrument will greatly enhance the capabilities of the Physics Department to conduct world class astronomical research and teaching and will help establish the role of SQU as a leading institution in astronomy in the GCC region.
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