n MNASSA : Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa - A bright nova in Delphinus (the Dolphin)




A nova is the sudden brightening of a star. Novae are thought to occur when a white dwarf star in a binary system explodes. The binary system usually consists of a white dwarf and a red giant star. If these two stars are close enough, material from the red giant star can be pulled off its surface and onto the white dwarf. This results in unhappiness for the white dwarf and it partially "explodes", brightening by 12 magnitudes or more (a factor of 10 000). Such stars may go through the nova phase many times, with outbursts separated by decades.


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