Reply To: What’s happening to Z Ursae Majoris?

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Duncan Hale-Sutton

Another aspect of the light curve of this star that interested me was that from time-to-time the maxima appear to be double peaked. This has been shown nicely by some recent observations using CMOS detectors (see the attached file which has been produced from the BAA database). If you look at the light curve after the 1st Jan 2022 you can see (green data points) that Z UMa reached a maximum of about magnitude 6.6 around the 14th March, then it faded a bit to about 7.7 around the 21st April before brightening again to about magnitude 6.8 around the 22nd May (roughly 69 days from peak-to-peak). The same double peak is seen in the visual data (black circles) but the scatter in the CMOS data is much tighter. Looking back at the four maxima prior to this the visual data (black circles) hint that this double peaked behaviour has been been developing as time progresses.

If you go back further in time other reasonably clear examples of a double peak can be seen in August 2016, January 2008 to July 2009, January 1999, July 1999 and July 1995 (I haven’t gone back further than this). So what is causing this? One suggestion has been that this is due to the interaction of different pulsation cycles within the star but this is not so easy to understand if, as John Greaves says (see my first post), after 1995 there is virtually only one pulsation period of 189 days. With more people carrying out observations using more accurate electronic detectors it will be interesting to see how often this double peaked behaviour appears.