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Increasing Activity in T CrB Suggests Nova Eruption Is Impending

Luna, GJM; Sokoloski, JL; Mukai, K; Kuin, PMN; (2020) Increasing Activity in T CrB Suggests Nova Eruption Is Impending. The Astrophysical Journal Letters , 902 (1) , Article L14. 10.3847/2041-8213/abbb2c. Green open access

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Abstract

Estimates of the accretion rate in symbiotic recurrent novae (RNe) often fall short of theoretical expectations by orders of magnitude. This apparent discrepancy can be resolved if the accumulation of mass by the white dwarf (WD) is highly sporadic, and most observations are performed during low states. Here we use a re-analysis of archival data from the Digital Access to a Sky Century @Harvard survey to argue that the most recent nova eruption in symbiotic RN T CrB, in 1946, occurred during—and was therefore triggered by—a transient accretion high state. Based on similarities in the optical light curve around 1946 and the time of the prior eruption, in 1866, we suggest that the WD in T CrB accumulates most of the fuel needed to ignite the thermonuclear runaways (TNRs) during accretion high states. A natural origin for such states is dwarf-nova like accretion-disk instabilities, which are expected in the presumably large disks in symbiotic binaries. The timing of the TNRs in symbiotic RNe could thus be set by the stability properties of their accretion disks. T CrB is in the midst of an accretion high state like the ones we posit led to the past two nova eruptions. Combined with the approach of the time at which a TNR would be expected based on the 80 yr interval between the prior two novae (2026 ± 3), the current accretion high state increases the likelihood of a TNR occurring in T CrB in the next few years.

Type: Article
Title: Increasing Activity in T CrB Suggests Nova Eruption Is Impending
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/abbb2c
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/abbb2c
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Recurrent novae; Symbiotic binary stars; Accretion
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113717
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