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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Binary Star System that Produces Recurrent Novae

August 23, 2012

This animation is an artist’s conception of a binary star system that produces recurrent novae, and ultimately, the supernova PTF 11kx. A red giant star (foreground) loses some of its outer layers though a stellar wind, and some of it forms a disk around a companion white dwarf star. This material falls onto the white dwarf, causing it to experience periodic nova eruptions every few decades. When the mass builds up to the near the ultimate limit a white dwarf star can take, it explodes as a Type Ia supernova, destroying the white dwarf.

Credit: Romano Corradi and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias