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Matrix Software > Learng Astrology > Astrophysical Directions > Galactic Objects > Dwarf Novae

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Back to Galactic Objects   |   Back to Astrophysical Direction 

Dwarf Novae, Recurrent Novae

The brightness or Luminosity of an ordinary nova may increase by a factor of 100,000 (12.5 magnitudes) within only a day or two. This sudden brightening of the star into a nova results from a sudden swelling of the photosphere -- an explosion. Although both the temperature and radius of the star undergo change through the nova process, the rapid expansion of the star's radius is by far the more important of the two. The temperature even grows cooler as the star nears maximum.

Examination of the spectra (see Spectral Types) of novae bears out the idea that an explosion is taking place. Bright lines appear and become progressively more prominent. This is an indication that matter has left the surface of the star and surrounded it with kind of an extensive chromosphere. As the nova process continues, spectral analysis gives evidence of decreasing density. Bright lines, characteristic of most diffuse nebulae, appear and it is therefore understood that the envelope of the star is expanding into the surrounding space. A portion of the star is ejected.


Dwarf Novae

There are different kinds of novae. The Dwarf Novae (also called SS Cygni or U Geminorum stars) are repeating variable novae with a range up to six magnitudes. These dwarf novae repeat their outbursts at quasi-periodic intervals of a few weeks or months and are faint at minimum and around zero magnitude at maximum.


Recurrent Novae

The Recurrent Novae, much larger than the dwarf novae (they range in light between 8 and 10 magnitudes, undergo outbursts at irregular intervals of several decades. The fact that a star can undergo the nova process more than once is thought provoking. As violent as the nova process may appear, it seems to be but a pasting incident in the life of the star, which returns to very much the same condition that existed before the outburst. As we shall see later in the text, this is not true for the supernovae. The variable star T Coronae Borealis is a classic recurrent nova with outbursts in 1866 and in 1946.


Copyright (c) 1997-99 Michael Erlewine


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