A nova happens when one of the stars is past its red giant period in a near binary star system. The star leaves a small white dwarf behind it. The strong gravitating pull of the white dwarf pulls stuff, primarily hydrogen, from the second star, when the white dwarf and his companion are close enough.
The hydrogen settles on the white dwarf’s surface and produces a fine atmosphere. The white dwarf warms the hydrogen, and the gas pressure is eventually intense, and the reaction becomes inflamed. Not any melting: fast, runaway melting.
When rapid fusion explodes, the light is visible, and a new atmosphere of hydrogen is thrown away into space from the white dwarf. In the past, astronomers assumed that these new shiny lights were new stars, and their name was “nova.” Such nova types are now referred to as “classical” novae.
It is a strong occurrence that generates not only visible light but also gamma rays and x-rays. The result is that a nova is seen with the human eye to some stars, which could only be seen via a telescope. In astronomy and astrophysics, all this is generally known. However, much is theoretical.
The newest of nanosatellite constellations, astronomers using BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer), we’re lucky enough to observe the whole process from beginning to end and confirm the hypothesis.
According to the site, “BRITE” is a set of nanosatellites intended to “study the origin and development of stellar stars in heaven and their connection with the local world.” We work in low-earth orbit, and the portions of the sky that can be viewed are small. BRITE is a project organized between researchers from Austria, Poland, and Canada.
This first-ever observation of a nova was pure chance. BRITE had spent several weeks observing 18 stars for several weeks in the Carina constellation. One day, a new star appeared. BRITE Operations Manager Rainer Kuschnig found the nova during daily inspection.