Speed of the Gaseous remnants of the star GK Persei is not slowing down

Expansion of the remaining material from the star (Credit: Liimets at al./ApJ)

Astronomers have constructed the 3D model of the star GK Persei that blasted with a powerful explosion and found that its speed is not slowing down.

This research has been published online in The Astrophysical Journal.

Star GK Persei is located about 1,300 light years away from us. It is also referred to as Nova Persei 1901 as a strong thermonuclear eruption occurred on its surface on the 21st February 1901, the day when its brightness caused it to become one of the brightest stars in the sky.

Gaseous remaining materials of the star became visible in 1916.

“From then the visual spectacle has been similar to that of a firework display seen in slow motion,” Miguel Santander, researcher at Spanish National Observatory and coauthor of the study, said in a statement.

Astronomers have developed 3D model of the remnant of a nova, i.e. remains of the star GK Persei after explosion, by utilizing the images captured from the Isaac Newton Telescope and the Nordic Optical Telescope in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain). They gathered images, checked the movements and radial velocity of more than 200 knots using Doppler effect, which helps to check whether they are moving closer or further away from us.

“Such data are rarely available in astrophysics because as a general rule apparent expansion or, in other words, in the layout of the sky, the majority of objects cannot be seen,” Romano Corradi, one of the authors of the study from the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands, said.

Astronomers have found that the speed of the emitted gases didn’t slow down and is considered to be in the range of 600 km/s to 1,000 km/s even after more than 100 years.

All in all, this work shows “that the gas seems to be moving further away in a ballistic or free manner and is hardly slowing down, contrary to what was thought in previous studies,” the lead author of the investigation, Tiina Liimets of the Tartu Observatory in Estonia, said.

Reference:

Liimets, T., Corradi, R., Santander-García, M., Villaver, E., Rodríguez-Gil, P., Verro, K., & Kolka, I. (2012). A THREE-DIMENSIONAL VIEW OF THE REMNANT OF NOVA PERSEI 1901 (GK Per) The Astrophysical Journal, 761 (1) DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/761/1/34