SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE NOVA IN CENTAURUS!
Photo Credit: Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini: http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/
To begin, do we all know what a nova is? Nope, it’s not the car and it’s also not a supernova either. A nova occurs when a white dwarf star in a binary star system begins to rip hydrogen gas from its partner. As it does so, that material builds up on its surface and becomes denser. Eventually over hundreds or thousands of years that pressure thus, heat, builds to a point where a fusion reaction takes place, not in the core but at the surface of the star. Typically these events host stars brighten a few magnitudes as the flash takes place over a few days. Basically it’s a 360 degree star sized, shaped charged, nuclear bomb as that shell of material explodes off of the stars surface. That’s not where the story ends however; the white dwarf under this event remains intact and will likely begin the process over again, perhaps many times over.
A supernova is different because as the star (In the same style binary system) pulls material onto itself it fails to clear the material from its surface (Like the nova does) and it reaches the Chandrasekhar limit (1.4 solar masses) and the star detonates completely as a type-1a supernova (We know these as Standard Candles).
That being said, on the 2nd of December, observer John Seach of Chatsworth Island, New South Wales, Australia discovered nova PNV J13544700-5909080 in the southern constellation of Centaurus and it is now being dubbed Nova Centauri 2013 (Nova Cen 2013) or officially “V 1369”. This past August us Northern Hemisphere folks were treated to Nova Delphini 2013 so it’s only fair one goes to the equator and points south. So to all my upside down friends, get outside and have a look! It’s currently at a magnitude of about 4 which is just past its peak but still visible to the naked eye.
LOCATION (RA/DEC J2000): RA 13h 54m 45s / DEC -59d 0.9’ 4.2”.
AAVSO Alert Notice 492: http://www.aavso.org/aavso-alert-notice-492
AAVSO Light Curve for Nova Cen 2013: http://www.aavso.org/lcg/plot?auid=000-BLF-802&starname=NOVA+CEN+2013&lastdays=&start=2456628.5000&stop=2456642.5&obscode=&obscode_symbol=2&obstotals=yes&calendar=calendar&forcetics=&grid=on&visual=on&r=on&fainterthan=on&bband=on&v=on&unvalidated=on&pointsize=1&width=800&height=450&mag1=&mag2=&mean=&vmean=?
AAVSO Nova Cen 2013 forum: http://www.aavso.org/possible-nova-centaurus
AAVSO Variable Star Plotter: http://www.aavso.org/vsp