Symbiotic nova

Symbiotic novae are slow irregular eruptive variable stars with very slow nova-like outbursts with an amplitude of between 9 and 11 magnitudes. The symbiotic nova remains at maximum for one or a few decades, and then declines towards its original luminosity. Variables of this type are double star systems with one red giant, which probably is a Mira variable,[1] and one white dwarf, with markedly contrasting spectra and whose proximity and mass characteristics indicate it as a symbiotic star. The red giant fills its Roche lobe so that matter is transferred to the white dwarf and accumulates until a nova-like outburst occurs, caused by ignition of thermonuclear fusion. The temperature at maximum is estimated to rise up to 200,000 K, similar to the energy source of novae, but dissimilar to the dwarf novae. The slow luminosity increase would then be simply due to time needed for growth of the ionization front in the outburst.[2]

It is believed that the white dwarf component of a symbiotic nova remains below the Chandrasekhar limit, so that it remains a white dwarf after its outburst.[2]

One example of a symbiotic nova is V1016 Cygni, whose outburst in 1971–2007 clearly indicated a thermonuclear explosion.[3] Other examples are HM Sagittae and RR Telescopii.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Bryan, Greg L.; Kwok, Sun (1991). "Energy distributions of symbiotic novae" (PDF). The Astrophysical Journal. 368: 252–260. Bibcode:1991ApJ...368..252B. doi:10.1086/169688.
  2. ^ a b MURSET U.; NUSSBAUMER H. (1994). "Temperatures and luminosities of symbiotic novae". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 282: 586–604. Bibcode:1994A&A...282..586M.
  3. ^ Photometric and Spectroscopic Evolution of the Symbiotic Nova ... Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine

External links

AG Pegasi

AG Pegasi is a symbiotic binary star in the constellation Pegasus. It is a close binary composed of a red giant and white dwarf, estimated to be around 2.5 and 0.6 times the mass of the Sun respectively. It is classified as a symbiotic nova; it has undergone one extremely slow nova outburst and a smaller outburst.

Initially a magnitude 9 star, AG Pegasi brightened and peaked at an apparent magnitude of 6.0 around 1885 before gradually fading to magnitude 9 in the late 20th century. Its spectrum was noted by earlier observers to resemble P Cygni. The spectrum of the hotter star has changed drastically over 160 years, leading investigators Scott Kenyon and colleagues to surmise that its hotter component, originally a white dwarf, accumulated enough material from the donor giant star to begin burning hydrogen and enlarge and brighten into an A-type white supergiant around 1850. It had this spectrum and an estimated surface temperature of around 10000 K in 1900, with a likely radius 16 times that of the Sun, before becoming a B-class star in 1920, then an O-class star in 1940, and finally a Wolf-Rayet star in 1970, with a surface temperature of 95000 K since 1978. It has shrunk to star with a diameter 1.1 times that of the Sun in 1949, then 0.15 times in 1978 and 0.08 times that of the Sun in 1990. AG Pegasi has been described as the slowest nova ever recorded, with a constant bolometric luminosity of the hotter star over 130 years from 1850 to 1980. By the late 20th century, the hotter star has evolved into a hot subdwarf on its way to eventually returning to white dwarf status.Vogel and colleagues calculated the hotter star must have been accreting material from the red giant for around 5000 years before erupting. Both stars are ejecting material in stellar winds. The resulting nebula contains material from both stars and is complex in nature.From 1997 until 2015, AG Pegasi entered a quiescent phase with no further change to its brightness. Then the hot component increased in temperature, which caused the nebulosity around the stars to become more ionised and increase in brightness. The combination of the extremely slow nova and smaller outburst means that Z Andromedae is classed as a symbiotic nova.

Compact star

In astronomy, the term compact star (or compact object) refers collectively to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. It would grow to include exotic stars if such hypothetical, dense bodies are confirmed to exist. All compact objects have a high mass relative to their radius, giving them a very high density, compared to ordinary atomic matter.

Compact stars are often the endpoints of stellar evolution, and are in this respect also called stellar remnants. The state and type of a stellar remnant depends primarily on the mass of the star that it formed from. The ambiguous term compact star is often used when the exact nature of the star is not known, but evidence suggests that it has a very small radius compared to ordinary stars. A compact star that is not a black hole may be called a degenerate star.

List of stars in Telescopium

This is the list of notable stars in the constellation Telescopium, sorted by decreasing brightness.

RR Telescopii

RR Telescopii is a symbiotic nova in the southern constellation Telescopium. It was recorded on photographic survey plates as a faint variable star between photographic magnitude (mpg) 9 to 16.6 from 1889 to 1944. In late 1944 the star began to brighten, increasing by about 7 magnitudes, from mpg ≈ 14 to brighter than 8. Brightening continued with a diminished rate of increase after early 1945, but the overall outburst was not noted until the star was seen at about 6.0, the threshold of naked eye brightness, in July 1948. At that time it was given the designation Nova Telescopii 1948. Since mid-1949 it has declined in brightness slowly, albeit accompanied by some remarkable changes in its spectrum, and as of August 2013 it had faded to visual magnitude around 12.

Sakurai's Object

Sakurai's Object (V4334 Sagittarii) is a star in the constellation of Sagittarius. It is thought to have previously been a white dwarf that, as a result of a very late thermal pulse, swelled and became a red giant. It is located at the center of a planetary nebula and is believed to currently be in thermal instability and within its final shell helium flash phase.

At the time of its discovery, astronomers believed Sakurai's Object to be a slow nova. Later spectroscopic analysis suggested that the star was not a nova, but had instead undergone a very late thermal pulse similar to that of V605 Aquilae, causing it to vastly expand. V605 Aquilae, which was discovered in 1919, is the only other star known to have been observed during the high luminosity phase of a very late thermal pulse, and models predict that Sakurai's Object, over the next few decades, will follow a similar life cycle.

Sakurai's Object and other similar stars are expected to end up as helium-rich white dwarfs after retracing their evolution track from the "born-again" giant phase back to the white dwarf cooling track. There are few other suspected "born-again" objects, one example being FG Sagittae. Having erupted in 1995, it is expected that Sakurai's Object's final helium flash will be the first well-observed one.


Serpens ("the Serpent", Greek Ὄφις) is a constellation of the northern hemisphere. One of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, it remains one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. It is unique among the modern constellations in being split into two non-contiguous parts, Serpens Caput (Serpent Head) to the west and Serpens Cauda (Serpent Tail) to the east. Between these two halves lies the constellation of Ophiuchus, the "Serpent-Bearer". In figurative representations, the body of the serpent is represented as passing behind Ophiuchus between Mu Serpentis in Serpens Caput and Nu Serpentis in Serpens Cauda.

The brightest star in Serpens is the red giant star Alpha Serpentis, or Unukalhai, in Serpens Caput, with an apparent magnitude of 2.63. Also located in Serpens Caput are the naked-eye globular cluster Messier 5 and the naked-eye variables R Serpentis and Tau4 Serpentis. Notable extragalactic objects include Seyfert's Sextet, one of the densest galaxy clusters known; Arp 220, the prototypical ultraluminous infrared galaxy; and Hoag's Object, the most famous of the very rare class of galaxies known as ring galaxies.

Part of the Milky Way's galactic plane passes through Serpens Cauda, which is therefore rich in galactic deep-sky objects, such as the Eagle Nebula (IC 4703) and its associated star cluster Messier 16. The nebula measures 70 light-years by 50 light-years and contains the Pillars of Creation, three dust clouds that became famous for the image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Other striking objects include the Red Square Nebula, one of the few objects in astronomy to take on a square shape; and Westerhout 40, a massive nearby star-forming region consisting of a molecular cloud and an H II region.


A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of the life of a massive star, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months or years.

Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means "new", referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.

Only three Milky Way, naked-eye supernova events have been observed during the last thousand years, though many have been observed in other galaxies. The most recent directly observed supernova in the Milky Way was Kepler's Supernova in 1604, but the remnants of recent supernovae have also been found. Observations of supernovae in other galaxies suggest they occur on average about three times every century in the Milky Way, and that any galactic supernova would almost certainly be observable with modern astronomical telescopes.

Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star's core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy as a supernova. While some observed supernovae are more complex than these two simplified theories, the astrophysical mechanics have been established and accepted by most astronomers for some time.

Supernovae can expel several solar masses of material at speeds up to several percent of the speed of light. This drives an expanding and fast-moving shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust observed as a supernova remnant. Stars that eventually explode as supernovae are a major source of elements heavier than nitrogen in the interstellar medium, and the expanding shock waves can directly trigger the formation of new stars. Supernova remnants might be a major source of cosmic rays. Supernovae might produce strong gravitational waves, though, thus far, the gravitational waves detected have been from the merger of black holes and neutron stars, such as those that can be left behind by supernovae.


Telescopium is a minor constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere, one of twelve named in the 18th century by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille and one of several depicting scientific instruments. Its name is a Latinized form of the Greek word for telescope. Telescopium was later much reduced in size by Francis Baily and Benjamin Gould.

The brightest star in the constellation is Alpha Telescopii, a blue-white subgiant with an apparent magnitude of 3.5, followed by the orange giant star Zeta Telescopii at magnitude 4.1. Eta and PZ Telescopii are two young star systems with debris disks and brown dwarf companions. Telescopium hosts two unusual stars with very little hydrogen that are likely to be the result of two merged white dwarfs: PV Telescopii, also known as HD 168476, is a hot blue extreme helium star, while RS Telescopii is an R Coronae Borealis variable. RR Telescopii is a cataclysmic variable that brightened as a nova to magnitude 6 in 1948.

Thermal runaway

Thermal runaway occurs in situations where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature, often leading to a destructive result. It is a kind of uncontrolled positive feedback.

In other words, "thermal runaway" describes a process which is accelerated by increased temperature, in turn releasing energy that further increases temperature. In chemistry (and chemical engineering), it is associated with strongly exothermic reactions that are accelerated by temperature rise. In electrical engineering, thermal runaway is typically associated with increased current flow and power dissipation, although exothermic chemical reactions can be of concern here too. Thermal runaway can occur in civil engineering, notably when the heat released by large amounts of curing concrete is not controlled. In astrophysics, runaway nuclear fusion reactions in stars can lead to nova and several types of supernova explosions, and also occur as a less dramatic event in the normal evolution of solar mass stars, the "helium flash".

There are also concerns regarding global warming that a global average increase of 3–4 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial baseline could lead to a further unchecked increase in surface temperatures. For example, releases of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2, from wetlands, melting permafrost and continental margin seabed clathrate deposits could be subject to positive feedback.

Type Ia supernova

A type Ia supernova (read "type one-a") is a type of supernova that occurs in binary systems (two stars orbiting one another) in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. The other star can be anything from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf.Physically, carbon–oxygen white dwarfs with a low rate of rotation are limited to below 1.44 solar masses (M☉). Beyond this, they reignite and in some cases trigger a supernova explosion. Somewhat confusingly, this limit is often referred to as the Chandrasekhar mass, despite being marginally different from the absolute Chandrasekhar limit where electron degeneracy pressure is unable to prevent catastrophic collapse. If a white dwarf gradually accretes mass from a binary companion, the general hypothesis is that its core will reach the ignition temperature for carbon fusion as it approaches the limit.

However, if the white dwarf merges with another white dwarf (a very rare event), it will momentarily exceed the limit and begin to collapse, again raising its temperature past the nuclear fusion ignition point. Within a few seconds of initiation of nuclear fusion, a substantial fraction of the matter in the white dwarf undergoes a runaway reaction, releasing enough energy (1–2×1044 J) to unbind the star in a supernova explosion.This type Ia category of supernovae produces consistent peak luminosity because of the uniform mass of white dwarfs that explode via the accretion mechanism. The stability of this value allows these explosions to be used as standard candles to measure the distance to their host galaxies because the visual magnitude of the supernovae depends primarily on the distance.

In May 2015, NASA reported that the Kepler space observatory observed KSN 2011b, a type Ia supernova in the process of exploding. Details of the pre-nova moments may help scientists better judge the quality of Type Ia supernovae as standard candles, which is an important link in the argument for dark energy.

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