- Dust shell around a nova
- Artist’s impression of the evolution of the shell as deduced from the observations made in the mid-infrared (in the visible, it is almost opaque), using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer.
Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer and the instruments AMBER and MIDI, Olivier Chesneau and collaborators were able for the first time to witness the appearance of a shell of dusty gas around a star that had just erupted, and follow its evolution for more than 100 days.
Nova Scorpii 2007a (or V1280 Scorpii), was discovered by Japanese amateur astronomers on 4 February 2007 towards the constellation Scorpius. For a few days, it became brighter and brighter, reaching its maximum on 17 February, to become one of the brightest novae of the last 35 years.
The first observations, secured 23 days after the discovery, showed that the source was very compact, less than 1 thousandth of an arcsecond (1 milli-arcsecond or mas), which is a size comparable to viewing one grain of sand from about 100 kilometres away. A few days later, after the detection of the major dust formation event, the source measured 13 mas.
More information available:
in the ESO 22/08 Science Release Watching a ’New Star’ Make the Universe Dusty
in the paper VLTI monitoring of the dust formation event of the Nova V1280 Sco by O. Chesneau et al. 2008, Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 487, p. 223
in the Fizeau lab press release (in french).