J. P. Osborne, K. L. Page, A. P. Beardmore, M. F. Bode, M. R. Goad, T. J. O'Brien, S. Starrfield, T. Rauch, J.-U. Ness, J. Krautter, G. Schwarz, D. N. Burrows (+4 others)
2011 Astrophysical Journal  
Swift X-ray observations of the ~60 day super-soft phase of the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi 2006 show the progress of nuclear burning on the white dwarf in exquisite detail. First seen 26 days after the optical outburst, this phase started with extreme variability likely due to variable absorption, although intrinsic white dwarf variations are not excluded. About 32 days later, a steady decline in count-rate set in. NLTE model atmosphere spectral fits during the super-soft phase show that the
more » ... ective temperature of the white dwarf increases from ~65 eV to ~90 eV during the extreme variability phase, falling slowly after about day 60 and more rapidly after day 80. The bolometric luminosity is seen to be approximately constant and close to Eddington from day 45 up to day 60, the subsequent decline possibly signalling the end of extensive nuclear burning. Before the decline, a multiply-periodic, ~35 s modulation of the soft X-rays was present and may be the signature of a nuclear fusion driven instability. Our measurements are consistent with a white dwarf mass near the Chandrasekhar limit; combined with a deduced accumulation of mass transferred from its binary companion, this leads us to suggest RS Oph is a strong candidate for a future supernova explosion. The main uncertainty now is whether the WD is the CO type necessary for a SN Ia. This may be confirmed by detailed abundance analyses of spectroscopic data from the outbursts.
doi:10.1088/0004-637x/727/2/124 fatcat:sfcpge4xefazpgjfyzt33er5xm