Fr.: variable cataclysmique
A → variable star that shows a sudden and dramatic change in brightness, including → flare stars, → novae, and some types of → symbiotic stars. They are believed to be very → close binary systems consisting of an → accreting → white dwarf → primary and an evolved → late-type secondary star that has filled its → Roche lobe. For systems with an → accretion disk, it is believed that a thermal instability is the cause of repetitive outbursts observed in cataclysmic variables called → dwarf novae.