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AbstractWe propose a simple explanation for the constant mean brightness observed between outbursts in dwarf novae. Secular changes in the total energy dissipation rate of the accretion disc brought about by variations in surface density, temperature and disc radius can be regulated by the gradual cooling of a small, critically-stable hot inner region. The hypothesis is supported by two-dimensional time-dependent numerical models of dwarf nova accretion discs.
Comment: 6 pages, 7 figures, accepted for MNRAS