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Multi-wavelength Observations of Novae in Outburst

  • S. Starrfield (a1)

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A nova outburst is the second most violent explosion that can occur in a galaxy. While less violent than a supernova explosion, novae are considerably more frequent. More than 250 have been observed in the last century and there were more than a dozen novae being observed in outburst when this review was written. Over the past few years they have been studied at wavelengths ranging from the radio to the X-ray and these data have provided exciting new information about the nova outburst. For example, IUE studies have shown that there are two classes of novae; those that occur on carbon-oxygen white dwarfs and those that occur on oxygen-neon-magnesium white dwarfs. EXOSAT observations have shown that an intense X-ray emitting source exists in the system for years after the initial outburst has been discovered and radio studies have found that some novae are ejecting material in jets. IR studies have found high excitation coronal lines, dust formation, and have provided accurate distances. Optical studies have provided determinations of densities and temperatures in the ejecta and have discovered a class of novae that occur on strongly magnetized white dwarfs. There have been predictions but no detections of γ-ray emission. Finally, novae are time dependant and simultaneous or contemporaneous observations are required in order to learn as much as possible about the characteristics of the outburst.

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