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On the Effect of Explosive Thermonuclear Burning on the Accreted Envelopes of White Dwarfs in Cataclysmic Variables

The detection of heavy elements at suprasolar abundances in the atmospheres of some accreting white dwarfs in cataclysmic variables, coupled with the high temperatures needed to produce these elements requires explosive thermonuclear burning. The central temperatures of any formerly more massive secondary stars in CVs undergoing hydrostatic CNO burning are far too low to produce these elements. Evidence is presented that at least some cataclysmic variables contain donor secondaries that have been contaminated by repeated novae ejecta and are transferring this material back to the white dwarf. This scenario does not exclude the channel in which formerly more massive donor stars underwent CNO processing in ystems that underwent thermal timescale mass transfer. Implications for the progenitors of CVs are discussed.

Author: Edward M. Sion

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