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See a Nova in Delphinus Tonight!

19 Aug 2013, 13:46 UTC
See a Nova in Delphinus Tonight!
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Astronomers world-wide are thrilled by news of a nova, just visible to the unaided eye in the constellation Delphinus (the Dolphin), just beside the familiar Summer Triangle. Why are they so excited and what will you see if you look toward this interloper in the sky?
A classical nova binary system just before an explosion on the surface of the white dwarf. Classical novas occur in a system where a white dwarf closely orbits a normal, companion star. In this illustration, gas is flowing from the large red companion star into a disc and then onto the white dwarf that is hidden inside the white area. As the gas flows ever closer to the white dwarf, it gets increasingly hotter, as indicated by the change in colors from yellow to white. When the explosion occurs, it engulfs the disc of gas and the red companion star. (Image credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

To stargazers in olden times a nova was a “new” star which just erupted into the night sky. Today we have a different view. What really happens is even more dramatic. A white dwarf is the inert but still white hot core of a dead star. A white dwarf ...

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