McNeil's Nebula in Orion: The Outburst History

C. Briceo, A. K. Vivas, J. Hernndez, N. Calvet, L. Hartmann, T. Megeath, P. Berlind, M. Calkins, S. Hoyer
2004 Astrophysical Journal  
We present a sequence of I-band images obtained at the Venezuela 1m Schmidt telescope during the outburst of the nebula recently discovered by J.W. McNeil in the Orion L1630 molecular cloud. We derive photometry spanning the pre-outburst state and the brightening itself, a unique record including 14 epochs and spanning a time scale of ~5 years. We constrain the beginning of the outburst at some time between Oct. 28 and Nov. 15, 2003. The light curve of the object at the vertex of the nebula,
more » ... likely exciting source of the outburst, reveals that it has brightened ~5 magnitudes in about 4 months. The time scale for the nebula to develop is consistent with the light travel time, indicating that we are observing light from the central source scattered by the ambient cloud into the line of sight. We also show recent FLWO optical spectroscopy of the exciting source and of the nearby HH 22. The spectrum of the source is highly reddened; in contrast, the spectrum of HH 22 shows a shock spectrum superimposed on a continuum, most likely due to reflected light from the exciting source reaching the HH object through a much less reddened path. The blue portion of this spectrum is consistent with an early B spectral type, similar to the early outburst spectrum of the FU Ori variable V1057 Cyg; we estimate a luminosity of L ~219 Lsun. The eruptive behavior of the McNeil nebula source, its spectroscopic characteristics and luminosity, suggest we may be witnessing an FU Ori event on its way to maximum. Further monitoring of this object will decide whether it qualifies as a member of this rare class of objects.
doi:10.1086/421395 fatcat:zpy5iagspjbfvdadgarnuxpspu