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Astro & GW Colloquium

Nova sub capita Cygni

Speaker: Dr Stewart Eyres (University of South Wales)
Date: Wednesday 29 May 2019
Time: 14:00
Venue: Queens Buildings N/3.28

In the early 1980s CK Vulpeculae was identified with Nova Vul 1670, a star that brightened from invisibility to 3rd magnitude nearly 350 years ago (the nova sub capita Cygni of the title). Initially of interest due to a proposed link with hibernating classical novae, the nature of the central stellar object remains unclear. In the literature various explanations have been discarded, including a classical nova outburst, a very late thermal pulse, a sub-Chandrasekhar mass supernova or a diffusion-induced nova. Most recently a stellar merger has been favoured, but various scenarios involving giant and main sequence components are difficult to reconcile with the observed characteristics. ALMA observations in 2017 resolved various structures in the gas and dust of the inner nebula, leading us to propose a new merger scenario. We argue that this best explains the observed activity in the 1670s, the current nebula structure and the peculiar isotopic abundance patterns.