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

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Back to Galactic Objects   |   Back to Astrophysical Direction 

Novae

The normal novae are brighter still than either the dwarf or the recurrent novae, and more common. More than 100 novae have been observed in our galaxy in the last one hundred years. It is estimated that about 25 novae brighter than 9th magnitude occur in our galaxy each year; although all are not visible due to either their intrinsic faintness or daytime skies.

Novae are designated by constellation and year of appearance. Novae Aquilae 1918 was the brightest seen this century. Most novae have an average range of 13 magnitudes or, in other words, an increase in brightness by a factor of 160,000 within a period of several days. The absolute visual or photographic luminosity at maximum can range as high as a million times that of the Sun. Novae may decline rapidly from peak luminosity or fade much more slowly. The novae that show rapid decline are several magnitudes brighter than those which decline more gradually.

As mentioned, it is believed that the nova explosion is confined to a relatively thin layer of the star's envelope, which expands and makes the star appear to swell. After this bubble has been blown off, the star appears little altered in either brightness or color. The bubble or expanding envelope becomes transparent as the expanding shell evolves into a nebula. The total Amount of stellar material lost is small, perhaps one thousandth of the star's mass or less.


Copyright (c) 1997-99 Michael Erlewine


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