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Paper: Cyclic Period Changes in Close Binaries: A Light-Travel Time Effect or a Symptom of Magnetic Activity?
Volume: 335, The Light-Time Effect in Astrophysics: Causes and Cures of the O - C diagram
Page: 137
Authors: Zavala, R.T.
Abstract: Years to decade-long cyclic period changes have been observed in many classes of close binaries. A common explanation invoked for these cyclic period changes is the gravitational influence of an unseen third body upon the close binary pair. The effects of an unseen third body must be strictly periodic, and not all of these observed period variations match this prediction. Douglas Hall noted almost 20 years ago that Algol binaries with cyclic period changes always had a convective, rapidly rotating secondary star. This secondary star has the seeds for a powerful magnetic dynamo, and the suggestion was made that magnetic activity was the cause of the observed cyclic period changes.

This paper reviews the observational evidence for a magnetic cycle driving the observed cyclic period changes. The theoretical framework which now exists to explain how the magnetic cycle can alter the orbital period of a close binary is also discussed, and an ongoing observational effort to test the predictions of the magnetic activity-cyclic period change connection is described.

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