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News Release 8 of 28

June 4, 2013 10:15 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-21

Hubble Maps 3-D Structure of Ejected Material Around Erupting Star

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

June 4, 2013: After 45 years of peaceful bliss, the nova T Pyxidis erupted again in 2011. Astronomers took advantage of a flash of light accompanying the blast to map the ejecta from previous outbursts surrounding the double-star system. The team used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to trace the light as it sequentially illuminated different parts of the disk, a phenomenon called a light echo. Contrary to some predictions, the astronomers were somewhat surprised to find that the ejecta stayed in the vicinity of the star and formed a disk of debris. The discovery suggests that material continues expanding outward along the system's orbital plane, but it does not escape the system.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Crotts, J. Sokoloski, and H. Uthas (Columbia University), and S. Lawrence (Hofstra University)