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NOVA CYG 2014

A newly-discovered star of magnitude 10.9 has flared in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. Koichi Nishiyama and Fujio Kabashima, both of Japan, made their discovery March 31 2014.

With that discovery, I chose this novae as my first nova/supernova spectroscopic project.  The novas official designation is PNV J20214234+3103296.  Using the C-14 telescope, LHIRES III spectrograph, and ST-8XME CCD camera.  I imaged each night, hoping to measure an increased or decreased output of various emission wavelengths .

To see a nova is to witness a cataclysm. All involve  close binary stars where a tiny but extremely dense white dwarf star steals gas from its companion. The gas ultimately funnels down to the 150,000 degree surface of the dwarf where it's compacted by gravity and heated to high temperature until it ignites in an explosive fireball. If you've ever wondered what a million nuclear warheads would look like detonated all at once, cast your eyes at a nova.  Novae can rise in brightness from 7 to 16 magnitudes (one magnitude equals 2.5 times brighter), the equivalent of 50,000 to 100,000 times brighter than the sun, in just a few days. Meanwhile the gas they expel in the blast travels away from the binary at 700 to several thousand miles per second.

In the wide field image below you can see how dense the star field is.  I use this field of view to find the target and move the telescope to have the target visible in the spectrograph guiding camera .  Then I center the target on the slit of the spectrograph with the guiding camera and collect the spectra with the imaging camera.

 

Below is one night of imaging.  A total of 12 images, 600 seconds long were processed, combine, and, calibrated to obtain the final graph. The strong emission lines of Ha=hydrogen alpha, NA=sodium , OI - (common in Fe novae), and O=Oxygen are visible.  Below the graph is the combined raw spectra images as the camera sees it. Then the emission and absorption lines of the entire range. As I process the additional nights of data collection I will update the page to show the changes in the novas output. Hopefully I will learn how to understand the results.

 

 

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All the images in this site are Copyright 1999-2015 by Kevin Hearst.
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