November 24, 2017

15.04.11: T Pyxidis in Outburst!

The field of T Pyx with 1 deg & 5 deg FOV…(Created by Author in Starry Night).

We interrupt this week’s regularly scheduled book review (which will run tomorrow) to bring notice to a recent celestial goings on. Early Thursday morning, AAVSO alert notice #436 graced our inbox; recurrent nova T Pyxidis is currently in outburst. This is a big deal, because this recurrent nova hasn’t popped since 1966, and has in fact, been long overdue for about a decade now. Few of these beasties are known and fewer still have been studied in detail. This recurrent nova is of the U Scorpii class of event that occurred about a year ago; fans of this space will recall our discussion of the T Pyxidis enigma last year. As of this posting, observers M. Linnolt, A. Plummer S. Kerr reported T Pyx in the +13.0 to +11.3 magnitude range, within the capability of a back yard scope under decent skies. Although the constellation Pyxidis is at a fairly southern declination, T Pyx should still be a decent target for observers in the southern United States. In fact, the constellation is well placed for evening viewing, with only this weekend’s Full Pink Moon running potential interference.

Just how bright will T Pyx get? If history is any indicator, a composite light curve of the 1902, 1920, & 1944 eruptions in Burnham’s Celestial Handbook shows a rise to +7 mag. in about 20 days, staying above +8 for about 60. That would put it about in binocular range. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how its long absence affects its return; will T Pyx reach naked eye visibility? It’s not out of the question; hunting coordinates are;

Right Ascension: 09 Hours 04’ 41.5”

Declination: -32 22’ 47.4”

Good luck, and be sure to get out there in the coming weeks and search for this rare recurrent nova!    

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  1. [...] dozens to thousands of years in a special type of eruption known as a recurrent novae . The star T Pyxidis is a famous example of a recurrent nova. A wide-field finder chart of the Summer Triangle asterism. [...]

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