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Saturday, January 18, 2014


Nova Centauri 2013 (V1369 Cen) just Keeps on Keeping on! (18 January 2014)

Southern Cross with parts of Carina and the Southern Pleiades. Down the bottom is the pointers, with Nova Centauri clearly visible (indicated by arrow). Image is a stack of 10 x 15 second exposures at ISO 400 taken with a Canon IXUS. Click to embiggen. The images aligned and stacked using Deep Sky Stacker. Stacked image imported to The Gimp and brightness enhanced. Image taken 11-01-2014.Close up, Beta Crucis is at the top of the image Nova Centauri clearly visible (indicated by arrow). Image is a stack of 10 x 15 second exposures at ISO 400 taken with a Canon IXUS at 3x Zoom. Click to embiggen. Image taken 11-01-2014.

Current lightcurve for V1369 Nova Centauri 2013 from the AAVSO.  Click to embigen.

Nova Centaui (V1369 Cen) is now over one and a half months from when it first brightened, and it is still visible to the unaided eye.

Over the past 46 days the nova has oscillated in brightness, after becoming one of the brightest nova since 1891. With 4 outbursts since the initial one, it has been keeping well above magnitude 5.5 (magnitude 6 is the limit most people can see under dark skies, many suburban sites let you see down to magnitude 5).

This behaviour suggests that this is a slow nova, like V723 Cas and V5558 Sag, where the primary star is a low mass white dwarf.  The multiple outbursts of this kind of nova suggest we may be seeing V1369 Cen for some more days to come, and maybe even be a few more outbursts (see the graphs near the end of this paper and here). I haven't seen any mention of whether it is a Helium/Neon nova, where the blast sends neon blasting off the white dwarf surface, but this spectrum is intriguing.

The images above were taken on 11 January, before the Moon made the sky too bright to see the Nova with the unaided eye, the Moon is now rising later, so the nova will be visible in dark sky sites with the unaided eye. It may even be visible in some suburban locations if the magnitude stays above 5.5. 

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I'm not a vs observer or nova-hunter, but this fella's got me very intrigued. I've been checking the light curve daily for weeks, fascinated by its ups & downs. Looks like we might be seeing another 'up' just starting, after a 2-week slide.
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