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U Scorpii in Outburst

29 Jan 2010, 17:43 UTC
U Scorpii in Outburst
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The recurrent nova U Sco has been discovered in outburst at magnitude V=8.05 on January 28.4385 UT by amateur astronomers B. Harris and shortly after by S. Dvorak (who estimated it at V~8.8). According to the AAVSO website prior to outburst, U Scorpii was measured at V=18.2 on Jan 27.4501 (Harris), and estimated at m(vis) 16.5 on January 27.6271 by M. Linnolt.Novae are binary systems where the companion star feeds matter through an accretion disk to accumulate on a white dwarf. After the eruption, the white dwarf returns to a steady state while the accumulation begins anew so that all novae recur. Each white dwarf will undergo many such eruptions, with the typical timescale between eruptions perhaps as long as 100,000 yr, although a subset of the nova population (called recurrent novae [RNe]) has recurrence timescales from 10 to 100 yr. U Sco is one of the most famous recurrent novae. In quiescence it usually hovers around magnitude 17.6, but in outburst it briefly shoots up by about 8 or 9 magnitudes. In fact, U Sco is the all-time fastest nova known. Its brightening from minimum to maximum takes only about 5 hours, and its decline to two magnitudes below ...

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