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Fermi Establishes Classical Novae as a Distinct Class of Gamma-Ray Sources

A classical nova results from runaway thermonuclear explosions on the surface of a white dwarf that accretes matter from a low-mass main-sequence stellar companion. In 2012 and 2013, three novae were detected in gamma rays and stood in contrast to the first gamma-ray detected nova V407 Cygni 2010, which belongs to a rare class of symbiotic binary systems. Despite likely differences in the compositions and masses of their white dwarf progenitors, the three classical novae are similarly characterized as soft spectrum transient gamma-ray sources detected over 2-3 week durations. The gamma-ray detections point to unexpected high-energy particle acceleration processes linked to the mass ejection from thermonuclear explosions in an unanticipated class of Galactic gamma-ray sources.

Authors: C.C. Cheung, P. Jean, S.N. Shore

Read the paper on astro-ph

 

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