Astronomy

Nova seems shell-shocked after outburst

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Science  04 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6192, pp. 43-44
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6192.43-h

With a generous companion star, even a runty white dwarf can quickly reach explosive stature. That's probably what happened to the unusual recurring nova T Pyx, which had its sixth recorded outburst in 2011. Chomiuk et al. used the Swift and Suzaku satellites to observe the x-ray brightness of this system over the first few hundred days after its discovery. The high- and low-energy x-ray behavior suggest that the white dwarf ejected two shells of material in successive thermonuclear events. In the team's model, the second shell expanded 50% faster than the first, and its inevitable catch-up produced a shock responsible for the x-ray emission. The reason for this stalled secondary explosion is still unclear.

Astrophys. J. 10.1088/0004-637X/788/2/130 (2014).

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