Discovery of fast, large-amplitude optical variability of V648 Car (=SS73-17).
ANGELONI R., DI MILLE F., FERREIRA LOPES C.E. and MASETTI N.
Abstract (from CDS):
We report on the discovery of large-amplitude flickering from V648 Car (= SS73-17), a poorly studied object listed among the very few hard X-ray-emitting symbiotic stars. We performed millimagnitude precision optical photometry with the Swope Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, and found that V648 Car shows large U-band variability over timescales of minutes. To our knowledge, it exhibits some of the largest flickering of a symbiotic star ever reported. Our finding supports the hypothesis that symbiotic white dwarfs producing hard X-rays are predominantly powered by accretion, rather than quasi-steady nuclear burning, and have masses close to the Chandrasekhar limit. No significant periodicity is evident from the flickering light curve. The All Sky Automated Survey long-term V light curve suggests the presence of a tidally distorted giant accreting via Roche lobe overflow, and a binary period of ∼520 days. On the basis of the outstanding physical properties of V648 Car as hinted at by its fast and long-term optical variability, as well as by its nature as a hard X-ray emitter, we therefore call for simultaneous follow-up observations in different bands, ideally combined with time-resolved optical spectroscopy.