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Polarizing Gas at Small Optical Depths Around Algols

  • R. H. Koch (a1), N. M. Elias (a1), M. F. Corcoran (a1) and B. D. Holenstein (a1)


The origins of visible-band linear polarimetry of Algols and objects related to them are reviewed. It is pointed out, not for the first time, that the polarization signals of these systems can vary sporadically by significant amounts. The difficulty of evaluating the interstellar component of the observed polarization is discussed and these components are evaluated anew for each object studied in this paper. With one possible exception, the polarization signals intrinsic to these binaries derive from electron scattering. A well-defined model is applied to the constant and variable (but phase-locked) polarization signals. Limits to the mass associated with a scattering disk in each binary are derived. Within broad limits, concentrations of scattering mass within and above or below the orbital plane are also developed as are the centroid longitudes of these concentrations within the system. It is pointed out that very few measures of visible-band, circular polarization have been made but that cm-wavelength measures of Algol itself have been very informative.

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