T Coronae Borealis: an image, waiting for its eruption – 7 June 2024

The astronomical community is eagerly waiting for the stellar event of the year: the eruption of the recurrent nova T Coronae Borealis (T CrB), 78 years after its previous outburst. We are looking at this nova every clear night and here it is one of our images.

T Coronae Borealis (T CrB), the brightest star, close to the center. 7 June 2024.

T Coronae Borealis (T CrB), the brightest star, close to the center. 7 June 2024.

The image above comes from the average of four, 10-second exposures, V-filtered, remotely taken with the Celestron C14+Paramount ME+SBIG ST8-XME robotic unit available as part of the Virtual Telescope Project in Manciano, Italy. We measured a V magnitude of 10.2, using V-mags for the reference stars from UCAC3.

T Coronae Borealis, aka T CrB, is an important astrophysical object, a so-called recurrent nova, that is a system showing from time to time huge increases in brightness, called outbursts. The last eruption occurred in 1946, after the first one discovered in 1866; there were also possible outbursts in the XIII and XVIII Centuries. The next eruption is expected between June  and Sept. 2024, after the object behaved like just before the 1946 outburst. Normally around magnitude 10 and visible at least through binoculars, T CrB can become as bright as mag. 2, like Polaris, easily visible to the naked eye.

T CrB is a binary system, including a red giant and a smaller white dwarf. Material is transferred from the colder, red component to the hot white dwarf, via an accretion disk. In quiescence, the luminosity of the system is dominated by the red giant. The increasing amount of transferred material triggers from time to time the mentioned outbursts, because of a thermonuclear runaway, which at this point dominates the overall luminosity of the system.

We try to observe this star every clear night.

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