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The orbital period is one of the most accessible observables of a cataclysmic variable. It has been a concern for many years that the orbital period distribution of the known systems does not match that predicted by evolutionary theory. The sample of objects discovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has changed this: it shows the long-expected predominance of short-period objects termed the ‘period spike’. The minimum period remains in conflict with theory, suggesting that the angular momentum loss mechanisms are stronger than predicted.
We are conducting long-term monitoring of several AGN with the aim of understanding the interplay between the emitting regions around the central black hole as well as the physics of the accreting flow. Here we present results for two of our sources, NGC 3783 and MR 2251–178, with strong evidence for disk-driven variability and the existence of cold accretion disks, where near-IR emission can be clearly detected from a region close to the black hole.
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