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KR Aurigae

KR Aurigae is a cataclysmic variable of the VY Sculptoris class, characterized by long periods of time spent in a bright state punctuated by occasional time spent in a very faint low state.  The high state is characteristic of the novalike variables with high mass transfer rates, while the low states are periods where mass transfer from the secondary switches off.  KR Aur was discovered in 1960 when its appearance was interpreted as a nova -- hence its designation as "Nova Aurigae 1960".  This isn't quite right physically, as novae are mainly thermonuclear events on an accreting white dwarf, while this was simply one of KR Aurigae's returns from a faint state.  KR Aurigae's light curve is reminiscent of another VY Scl that made some astronomical waves in the past few years -- the brighter novalike TT Ari.

Interesting things happen when the VY Scl stars are at minimum, and while they're challenging to observe, they're good targets for CCD observers especially. 

For more information visit: http://cdsbib.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/cdsbib?2004AJ....128.1279H
Prepared By: Matthew Templeton
AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484