Swift X-ray observations of classical novae. II. the super soft source sample

Greg J. Schwarz, Jan Uwe Ness, J. P. Osborne, K. L. Page, P. A. Evans, A. P. Beardmore, Frederick M. Walter, L. Andrew Helton, Charles E. Woodward, Mike Bode, Sumner Starrfield, Jeremy J. Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


The Swift gamma-ray burst satellite is an excellent facility for studying novae. Its rapid response time and sensitive X-ray detector provides an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the previously poorly sampled evolution of novae in the X-ray regime. This paper presents Swift observations of 52 Galactic/Magellanic Cloud novae. We included the X-Ray Telescope (0.3-10keV) instrument count rates and the UltraViolet and Optical Telescope (1700-8000) filter photometry. Also included in the analysis are the publicly available pointed observations of 10 additional novae the X-ray archives. This is the largest X-ray sample of Galactic/Magellanic Cloud novae yet assembled and consists of 26 novae with Super Soft X-ray emission, 19 from Swift observations. The data set shows that the faster novae have an early hard X-ray phase that is usually missing in slower novae. The Super Soft X-ray phase occurs earlier and does not last as long in fast novae compared to slower novae. All the Swift novae with sufficient observations show that novae are highly variable with rapid variability and different periodicities. In the majority of cases, nuclear burning ceases less than three years after the outburst begins. Previous relationships, such as the nuclear burning duration versus t 2 or the expansion velocity of the eject and nuclear burning duration versus the orbital period, are shown to be poorly correlated with the full sample indicating that additional factors beyond the white dwarf mass and binary separation play important roles in the evolution of a nova outburst. Finally, we confirm two optical phenomena that are correlated with strong, soft X-ray emission which can be used to further increase the efficiency of X-ray campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Novae
  • X-rays: stars
  • cataclysmic variables
  • ultraviolet: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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