We have followed the X-ray nova GRO J0422+32, spectroscopically and photometrically, throughout the decline to quiescence.
In the final stages of decay (days 430…880 after the outburst, see Callanan et al. (1995) for the epoch 1995), the equivalent width (EW) of the Hα emission increases monotonically and the R magnitude decreases monotonically. This suggests that the flux in the Hα line is constant, while the continuum fades. The Hα flux is the product of the R band flux (F(R), arbitrarily scaled to 100 at R = 19 mag) and the EW, and is shown in the last column of the table below. The Hα flux varies by only ~ 30% while the continuum fades by a factor of eight (from R = 19 mag to R = 21.3 mag). So, to first order, the Hα luminosity is constant in the final stages of decay. While it is generally the case that the emission line EWs in individual dwarf novae also increase during the decay, the exact behavior seen in GRO J0422+32 is not what is seen for dwarf novae (on average). Using the relation between EW[Hβ] and M v given in figure 6 of Patterson (1984), we would expect a factor of ~ 5 variation in the Hα flux during days 430…880. The stability of the Hα flux implies that somehow the emission line region is ‘disconnected’ from the continuum (R–band) emission region.