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M31N 2008-12a - the remarkable recurrent nova in M31: Pan-Chromatic observations of the 2015 eruption

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  • M. J. Darnley
  • M. Henze
  • M. F. Bode
  • I. Hachisu
  • M. Hernanz
  • K. Hornoch
  • R. Hounsell
  • M. Kato
  • J. -U. Ness
  • J. P. Osborne
  • K. L. Page
  • V. A. R. M. Ribeiro
  • P. Rodriguez-Gil
  • A. W. Shafter
  • M. M. Shara
  • I. A. Steele
  • A. Arai
  • I. Arcavi
  • E. A. Barsukova
  • P. Boumis
  • T. Chen
  • S. Fabrika
  • J. Figueira
  • N. Gehrels
  • P. Godon
  • V. P. Goranskij
  • D. J. Harman
  • D. H. Hartmann
  • G. Hosseinzadeh
  • J. Chuck Horst
  • K. Itagaki
  • J. Jose
  • F. Kabashima
  • A. Kaur
  • N. Kawai
  • J. A. Kennea
  • S. Kiyota
  • H. Kucakova
  • K. M. Lau
  • H. Maehara
  • H. Naito
  • K. Nakajima
  • K. Nishiyama
  • T. J. O'Brien
  • R. Quimby
  • G. Sala
  • Y. Sano
  • E. M. Sion
  • A. F. Valeev
  • F. Watanabe
  • M. Watanabe
  • B. F. Williams
  • Z. Xu
Article number149
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/12/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>The Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Number of pages38
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Andromeda Galaxy recurrent nova M31N 2008-12a had been observed in eruption ten times, including yearly eruptions from 2008-2014. With a measured recurrence period of $P_\mathrm{rec}=351\pm13$ days (we believe the true value to be half of this) and a white dwarf very close to the Chandrasekhar limit, M31N 2008-12a has become the leading pre-explosion supernova type Ia progenitor candidate. Following multi-wavelength follow-up observations of the 2013 and 2014 eruptions, we initiated a campaign to ensure early detection of the predicted 2015 eruption, which triggered ambitious ground and space-based follow-up programs. In this paper we present the 2015 detection; visible to near-infrared photometry and visible spectroscopy; and ultraviolet and X-ray observations from the Swift observatory. The LCOGT 2m (Hawaii) discovered the 2015 eruption, estimated to have commenced at Aug. $28.28\pm0.12$ UT. The 2013-2015 eruptions are remarkably similar at all wavelengths. New early spectroscopic observations reveal short-lived emission from material with velocities $\sim13000$ km s$^{-1}$, possibly collimated outflows. Photometric and spectroscopic observations of the eruption provide strong evidence supporting a red giant donor. An apparently stochastic variability during the early super-soft X-ray phase was comparable in amplitude and duration to past eruptions, but the 2013 and 2015 eruptions show evidence of a brief flux dip during this phase. The multi-eruption Swift/XRT spectra show tentative evidence of high-ionization emission lines above a high-temperature continuum. Following Henze et al. (2015a), the updated recurrence period based on all known eruptions is $P_\mathrm{rec}=174\pm10$ d, and we expect the next eruption of M31N 2008-12a to occur around mid-Sep. 2016.