T Pyxidis is the only recurrent nova surrounded by knots of material ejected in previous outbursts. Following the eruption that began on 2011 April 14.29, we obtained seven epochs (from 4 to 383 days after eruption) of Hubble Space Telescope narrowband Ha images of T Pyx . The flash of radiation from the nova event had no effect on the ejecta until at least 55 days after the eruption began. Photoionization of hydrogen located north and south of the central star was seen 132 days after the beginning of the eruption. That hydrogen recombined in the following 51 days, allowing us to determine a hydrogen atom density of at least 7e5 cm^-3 - at least an order of magnitude denser than the previously detected, unresolved [NII] knots surrounding T Pyx. Material to the northwest and southeast was photoionized between 132 and 183 days after the eruption began. 99 days later that hydrogen had recombined. Both then (282 days after outburst) and 101 days later, we detected almost no trace of hydrogen emission around T Pyx. There is a large reservoir of previously unseen, cold diffuse hydrogen overlapping the previously detected, [NII] - emitting knots of T Pyx ejecta. The mass of this newly detected hydrogen is probably an order of magnitude larger than that of the [NII] knots. We also determine that there is no significant reservoir of undetected ejecta from the outer boundaries of the previously detected ejecta out to about twice that distance, near the plane of the sky. The lack of distant ejecta is consistent with the Schaefer et al (2010) scenario for T Pyx, in which the star underwent its first eruption within five years of 1866 after many millennia of quiescence, followed by the six observed recurrent nova eruptions since 1890. This lack of distant ejecta is not consistent with scenarios in which T Pyx has been erupting continuously as a recurrent nova for many centuries or millennia.
Authors: Michael M. Shara, David Zurek, Bradley E. Schaefer, Howard E. Bond, Patrick Godon, Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, Ashley Pagnotta, Dina Prialnik, Edward M. Sion, Jayashree Toraskar, Robert E. Williams
We present the size, shape and flux densities at millimeter continuum wavelengths, based on ALMA science verification observations in Band 3 (~94.6 GHz) and Band 6 (~228.7 GHz), from the binary Mira A (o Ceti) and Mira B. The Mira AB system has been observed with ALMA at a spatial resolution of down to ~25 mas. The extended atmosphere of Mira A and the wind around Mira B sources are resolved and we derive the size of Mira A and of the ionized region around Mira B. The spectral indices within Band 3 (between 89-100 GHz) and between Band 3 and Band 6 are also derived. The spectral index of Mira A is found to change from 1.71+-0.05 within Band 3 to 1.54+-0.04 between Band 3 and 6. The spectral index of Mira B is 1.3+-0.2 in Band 3, in good agreement with measurements at longer wavelengths. However it rises to 1.72+-0.11 between the bands. For the first time the extended atmosphere of a star is resolved at these frequencies and for Mira A the diameter is ~3.7x2.9 AU in Band 3 (with brightness temperature Tb~6000 K) and ~4.0x3.6 AU in Band 6 (Tb~2500 K). Additionally, a bright hotspot of ~0.4 AU and with Tb~10000 K is found on the stellar disc of Mira A. The size of the ionized region around the accretion disk of Mira B is found to be ~2.4 AU. The emission around Mira B is consistent with that from a partially ionized wind of gravitationally bound material from Mira A close to the accretion disk of Mira B. The Mira A atmosphere does not fully match predictions, with brightness temperatures in Band 3 significantly higher than expected, potentially due to shock heating. The hotspot is likely due to magnetic activity and could be related to the previously observed X-ray flare of Mira A.
Authors: W.H.T. Vlemmings, S. Ramstedt, E. O'Gorman, E.M.L. Humphreys, M. Wittkowski, A. Baudry, M. Karovska
This International Year of Light, as we celebrate the role of light and light-based technology in sustainable development, let us also pledge to take action for a sustainable future with the flick of a light switch. Celebrate your commitment to our planet by switching off the lights on Saturday 28 March at 8:30 PM local time.
New observations made with APEX and other telescopes reveal that the star that European astronomers saw appear in the sky in 1670 was not a nova, but a much rarer, violent breed of stellar collision. It was spectacular enough to be easily seen with the naked eye during its first outburst, but the traces it left were so faint that very careful analysis using submillimetre telescopes was needed before the mystery could finally be unravelled more than 340 years later.
The lead author of the new study, Tomasz Kamiński (ESO and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany) explains: “For many years this object was thought to be a nova, but the more it was studied the less it looked like an ordinary nova — or indeed any other kind of exploding star.”
The results appear online in the journal Nature on 23 March 2015.