The thermonuclear runaway and the classical nova outburst

Sumner Starrfield, C. Iliadis, W. R. Hix

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Nova explosions occur on the white dwarf component of a cataclysmic variable binary stellar system that is accreting matter lost by its companion. When sufficient material has been accreted by the white dwarf, a thermonuclear runaway occurs and ejects material in what is observed as a classical nova explosion. We describe both the recent advances in our understanding of the progress of the outburst and outline some of the puzzles that are still outstanding. We report on the effects of improving both the nuclear reaction rate library and including a modern nuclear reaction network in our one-dimensional, fully implicit, hydrodynamic computer code. In addition, there has been progress in observational studies of supernovae Ia with implications about the progenitors, and we discuss that in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number963
StatePublished - May 2016


  • (stars:) novae
  • Cataclysmic variables
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: interiors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The thermonuclear runaway and the classical nova outburst'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this