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RS Ophiuchi: Thermonuclear explosion or disc instability?

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posted on 2012-10-24, 09:21 authored by A. R. King, J. E. Pringle
Sokoloski, Rupen & Mioduszewski have recently reported evidence that the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi produced a pair of highly collimated radio jets within days of its 2006 outburst. This suggests that an accretion disc must be present during the outburst. However, in the standard picture of recurrent novae as thermonuclear events, any such disc must be expelled from the white dwarf vicinity, as the nuclear energy yield greatly exceeds its binding energy. We suggest instead that the outbursts of RS Oph are thermal-viscous instabilities in a disc irradiated by the central accreting white dwarf. The distinctive feature of RS Oph is the very large size of its accretion disc. Given this, it fits naturally into a consistent picture of systems with unstable accretion discs. This picture explains the presence and speed of the jets, the brightness and duration of the outburst, and its rise time and linear decay, as well as the faintness of the quiescence. By contrast, the hitherto standard picture of recurrent thermonuclear explosions has a number of severe difficulties. These include the presence of jets, the faintness of quiescence, and the fact the accretion disc must be unstable unless it is far smaller than any reasonable estimate.

History

Citation

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: LETTERS, 2009, 397 (1)

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: LETTERS

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

issn

1745-3933

Copyright date

2009

Available date

2012-10-24

Publisher version

http://mnrasl.oxfordjournals.org/content/397/1/L51

Language

en

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