Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables: Possibilities for the Presence of Dust in Polars
We present Spitzer photometry of six short-period polars, EF Eri, V347 Pav, VV Pup, V834 Cen, GG Leo, and MR Ser. We have combined the Spitzer IRAC (3.6-8.0 μm) data with the 2MASS JHKs photometry to construct the SEDs of these systems from the near- to mid-IR (1.235-8 μm). We find that five out of the six polars have flux densities in the mid-IR that are substantially in excess of the values expected from the stellar components alone. We have modeled the observed SEDs with a combination of contributions from the white dwarf, secondary star, and either cyclotron emission or a cool, circumbinary dust disk to fill in the long-wavelength excess. We find that a circumbinary dust disk is the most likely cause of the 8 μm excess in all cases, but we have been unable to rule out the specific (but unlikely) case of completely optically thin cyclotron emission as the source of the observed 8 μm flux density. While both model components can generate enough flux at 8 μm, neither dust nor cyclotron emission alone can match the excess above the stellar components at all wavelengths. A model combining both cyclotron and dust contributions, possibly with some accretion-generated flux in the near-IR, is probably required, but our observed SEDs are not sufficiently well sampled to constrain such a complicated model. If the 8 μm flux density is caused by the presence of a circumbinary dust disk, then our estimates of the masses of these disks are many orders of magnitude below the mass required to affect CV evolution.