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This second edition has been updated and revised and contains contributions covering important developments in this field, and reflecting on interesting insights into classical novae. The book examines thermonuclear processes, the evolution of nova systems, nova atmospheres and winds, the evolution of dust and molecules in novae, nova remnants and observations of novae in other galaxies. It includes observations across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio to gamma rays, and discusses some of the most important outstanding problems in classical nova research.
First conceived around 1981, the first edition of Classical Novae was published in 1989, after rather a long gestation period. This was at a time when the International Ultraviolet Explorer observatory was still going strong, the Hubble Space Telescope and the ROSAT X-ray observatory still lay in the future, and observatories that are now delivering data of stunning quality, such as Chandra, XMM and Spitzer, were still on the drawing board. Despite the comment in the preface to the first edition ‘had we kept to our original schedule the book would have become dated rather quickly’, Classical Novae dated very quickly, as was inevitable.
We had toyed with the idea of a second edition for some time. It was clear that tinkering at the edges of the first edition would not do: so much had changed since the publication of what we began to refer to as ‘CNI’. There were of course the inevitable advances in the quality and nature of the observations' over the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and in our theoretical understanding of the classical nova phenomenon as computing power grew. However, there was also the advent of the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), and the facility to prepare a finding chart at the click of a mouse button (R. A. Downes & M. M. Shara 1989, PASP105, 127): who could have foreseen this when CNI was being compiled? The latter two rendered the Data on Novae chapter of the first edition completely obsolete.
Some years ago we blundered, almost by accident, into the field of classical novae. Our prime interest at the time was in their dust formation properties and infrared development; however, it soon became evident that a full understanding of this relatively restricted aspect of the nova outburst could not be achieved without considering all aspects of the nova phenomenon. Fortunately, from our point of view, the 1970s was a decade during which several significant advances were made in the understanding of classical novae on both observational and theoretical fronts. Accordingly we were able to take advantage of these advances as they appeared in the research literature. However, with the exception of occasional published conference proceedings, it was apparent that no text existed that covered all aspects – both theoretical and observational – of the classical nova phenomenon.
This book arose out of a casual conversation with Dr Jim Truran during which we bemoaned the fact that there seemed to be no modern equivalent of the classic book on the subject, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin's The Galactic Novae. It seemed to us that such a volume was long overdue. However, it was clear that, with rapid developments in several aspects of the study of novae, no single author could do justice to all the relevant theoretical and multi-wavelength observational material.