AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

Recovering from the Classical-Nova Disaster (Abstract)

Volume 42 number 2 (2014)

Joseph Patterson
Center for Backyard Astrophysics, 25 Claremont Avenue, Apt. 7C, New York, NY 10027; jop@astro.columbia.edu


(Abstract only) Classical novae rise from obscurity to shine among the brightest stars in the Galaxy. The story of how they return to quiescence is still only dimly known. Vast amounts of energy are loosed upon the white dwarf and its companion, and the light curves of post-novae suggest that they take not a few years, but a few thousand years, to return to quiescence. In the meantime, the secondary may experience a lot of heating from the white dwarf’s rediation—enough to overwhelm its intrinsic nuclear luminosity. I’ll discuss the stellar physics behind this suggestion, and propose how it might be tested by time-series photometry in the months and years (and if possible, centuries) after outburst.