16 Years of Novae from SMARTS: What Have We Learned?

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 9 a.m. — 10 a.m. MST

AURA Lecture Hall

NOIRLab South Colloquia
FREDERICK M. WALTER (Stony Brook University and NOAO South Visiting Professor)

SMARTS has afforded a wonderful opportunity to open up the time domain in a systematic manner. We observed our first nova with SMARTS in 2003, using Andicam for OIR photometry and the RC spectrograph for low resolution spectroscopy. Now, 107 novae later, as we anticipate the retirement of Andicam and celebrate seven years of Chiron spectroscopy, it is time to take stock of what we have learned.

Sometimes, the more data we get the less we understand. Novae are certainly more complex than the textbooks say. I will talk about questions have arisen because we have multi-band photometry with contemporaneous spectroscopy, and concerns that can be addressed only using high cadence multi-band photometry with contemporaneous spectroscopy.

I will lavishly illustrate with examples from some of my favorite novae. I will touch on topics including mass loss in slow dusty novae, the properties of the dust, accretion disks, relaxation oscillators, and rapid changes in excitation states in decade-old novae.