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Title: Catching a nova X-ray/UV flash in the visible? Early spectroscopy of the very slow Nova Velorum 2022 (Gaia22alz)

We present early spectral observations of the very slow Galactic nova Gaia22alz, over its gradual rise to peak brightness that lasted 180 d. During the first 50 d, when the nova was only 3–4 mag above its normal brightness, the spectra showed narrow (FWHM ≈ 400 km s−1) emission lines of H Balmer, He i, He ii, and C iv but no P Cygni absorption. A few weeks later, the high-excitation He ii and C iv lines disappeared, and P Cygni profiles of Balmer, He i, and eventually Fe ii lines emerged, yielding a spectrum typical of classical novae before peak. We propose that the early (first 50 d) spectra of Gaia22alz, particularly the emission lines with no P Cygni profiles, are produced in the white dwarf’s optically thin envelope or accretion disc, reprocessing ultraviolet and potentially X-ray emission from the white dwarf after a dramatic increase in the rate of thermonuclear reactions, during a phase known as the ‘early X-ray/UV flash’. If true, this would be one of the rare times that the optical signature of the early X-ray/UV flash has been detected. While this phase might last only a few hours in other novae and thus be easily missed, it was possible to detect in Gaia22alz due to its very slow and gradual rise and thanks to the efficiency of new all-sky surveys in detecting transients on their rise. We also consider alternative scenarios that could explain the early spectral features of Gaia22alz and its gradual rise.

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Award ID(s):
2107070 1751874
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; « less
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1946-1964
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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