A DEEP OPTICAL IMAGING STUDY OF THE NEBULAR REMNANTS OF CLASSICAL NOVAE

A J SLAVIN, T J OBRIEN, J S DUNLOP

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Abstract

An optical imaging study of old nova remnants has revealed previously unobserved features in the shells of 13 classical novae - DQ Her, FH Ser, HR Del, GK Per, V1500 Cyg, T Aur, V533 Her, NQ Vul, V476 Cyg, DK Lac, LV Vul, RW UMi and V450 Cyg. These data indicate a possible correlation between nova speed class and the ellipticity of the resulting remnants - those of faster novae tend to comprise randomly distributed clumps of ejecta superposed on spherically symmetric diffuse material, whilst slower novae produce more structured ellipsoidal remnants with at least one and sometimes several rings of enhanced emission. By measuring the extent of the resolved shells and combining this information with previously published ejection speeds, we use expansion parallax to estimate distances for the 13 novae. Whilst we are able to deduce new information about every nova, it is notable that these observations include the first detections of shells around the old novae V450 Cyg and NQ Vul, and that velocity-resolved images of FH Ser and DQ Her have enabled us to estimate their orbital inclinations. Our observations of DQ Her also show that the main ellipsoidal shell is constricted by three rings and surrounded by a faint halo; this halo contains long tails extending outwards from bright knots, perhaps indicating that during or after outburst a fast inner wind has broken through the fractured principal shell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume276
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 1995

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