A nova, known as the episode that marks the end of life for a binary pair of stars, can be defined as an impressive explosion of extremely bright light, which takes between a couple of weeks between a couple of months. Even though this phenomenon is not as rare as you may think, such an event can occur up to ten times each year in our galaxy.
A team of researchers managed to carefully analyze the entire nova process using the BRITE constellation of nanosatellites. BRIght Target Explorer was specially designed to help astronomers to investigate the formation and evolution of many of the brightest stars in the Milky Way, as well as how do they manage to interact with the surrounding objects. The project is coordinate by an international team of researchers, including Polish, Austrian, and Canadian researchers.
Scientists observed an entire nova, from the beggining to the end
The first nova that was ever observed was pure luck. BRITE spent a couple of weeks to watch the Carina constellation and its 18 stars. One day an extra star appeared in the zodiac, leaving the researchers amazed by this never seen phenomenon. The nova that was observed was named Nova V906, and the scientists are still trying to determine what has determined this explosion happen in the first place.
Given its position, the V906 Carinae is situated at 13.000 light-years away, and therefore all the phenomena occurred a very long time ago. The project manager of the BRITE study, Otto Koudelka, has declared that he is impressed by that during his project, the researchers’ team managed to collect data regarding the first nova explosion that was spotted before the actual eruption.
This research provides impressive evidence, proving to be the basis of more such study on this matter. Given the unprecedented precision of BRITE, the researchers were able to observe for the first time the entire nova event.