Astrophysical Journal (USA), Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 378, Sept. 10, 1991, p. 665-673. Research supported by NSF, NASA, and Research Corp.
The hypothesis that quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) are due to the oscillatory instability of radiative shock waves discovered by Langer et al. (1981, 1092) is examined. The time-dependent optical spectra of oscillating radiative shocks produced by flows onto magnetic white dwarfs are calculated. The results are compared with the observations of the AM Her QPO sources V834 Cen, AN UMa, EF Eri, and VV Pup. It is found that the shock oscillation model has difficulties with aspects of the observations for each of the sources. For VV Pup, AN UMa, and V834 Cen, the cyclotron luminosities for the observed magnetic fields of these systems, based on our calculations, are large. The strong cyclotron emission probably stabilizes the shock oscillations. For EF Eri, the mass of the white dwarf based on hard X-ray observations is greater than 0.6 solar mass.