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* International Conference on *
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* La Palma, Canary Islands, 16-19 May 2006 *
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The 2002 outburst of V838 Monocerotis has been one of the major hits
in stellar astrophysics in recent years. The object is the most
studied member of an exciting class of rare objects undergoing
tremendous stellar explosions, so powerful as to make V838 Mon at peak
brightness one of the most luminous stars in the whole Local Group (at
M_V=-10 mag). Other objects similar to V838 Mon are M31-RV, which
exploded in 1988 in the Andromeda galaxy, and V4332 Sgr which erupted
in 1994 in our Galaxy. V838 Mon progenitor must have been massive and
young, given the presence of a normal B3V companion.

The eruption of V838 Mon was discovered on January 2002 (cf. IAUC
7785). V838 Mon has displayed a complex light curve characterized by
multiple maxima of very different colors, a very red spectral energy
distribution, a long phase during which the optical brightness was
below the quiescence value while the star remained very bright in the
near-IR, and a recent re-warming accompanied by a recovery of the
optical luminosity.

The spectral evolution of V838 Mon was as peculiar as its light
curve. In spite of large ejection velocities at the outburst onset
(~500 km/sec), the expanding ejecta never reached optically thin
conditions. It remained optically thick and got cooler and cooler
with time, initially mimicking a K giant, then making a complete
excursion along the whole sequence of M giant spectra down to M10, and
finally entering the new realm of L-type supergiants, a spectral type
never seen before anywhere in the Universe and characterized by
temperatures so low that were previously measured only in brown

Besides this, V838 Mon became one of the major attractions
in stellar astrophysics over the last few years  by displaying a 2 arcmin
wide bright circumstellar light-echo, the first one seen in our Galaxy in
the last 70 years. At the peak of its development around 2003, it was so
bright that it became a favourite object even for amateur-sized telescopes.
HST soon started  monitoring the light-echo evolution (with eye-catching
images appearing even on the front cover of Nature 422, 405 - 2003). These
are set to continue during the next observing season, starting in October
2005, when V838 Mon will emerge from its seasonal conjunction with the Sun.

Little consensus has been reached so far on the nature and causes of the
outburst of V838 Mon. The interpretations published in the literature cover
a wide range of possibilities such as the swallowing of giant planets, merging
of the components of a binary star, surface helium flash in a highly evolved
and very massive star and a highly degenerate hydrogen flash in a low mass,
cool and very slowly accreting white dwarf.

Given the many important questions opened by the intensive study of
V838 Mon in the last three years, a conference dedicated to the
subject is planned for May 16-19, 2006, on the island of La Palma
(Canary Islands, Spain). The Conference aims to bring together
researchers interested in V838 Mon and related stars, in light-echos,
in the atmospheres and chemistry of very cool giant stars, in
circumstellar cocoons, in the latest evolutionary stages of very
massive stars and in the various alternative scenarios proposed to
account for the unique properties of V838 Mon and its associates. One
main goal of the conference is to compare observational evidence and
theoretical interpretations, so as to gain a better understanding of
the V838 Mon phenomenon. Another objective is to foster cooperation
and coordination of future observational and modelling efforts, both
concerning its still active outburst phase and in view of the return
to quiescence conditions in the years to come.

---- TOPICS, SOC, LOC ----

The conference topics include:

* Photometric evolution, optical and IR
* Spectroscopic evolution, optical and IR
* L-supergiant spectra, interpretation, molecular chemistry
* Structure and evolution of mass loss in early phases
* Polarimetry and spectropolarimetry
* Pre-Outburst properties and progenitor
* The B3V companion
* Young stars in the outskirts of the Galaxy
* The circumstellar cocoon
* The interstellar medium toward and around
* The light echo structure and evolution
* Distance from light-echo evolution
* Evolutionary status of the outbursting component
* Models of the outburst
* Similar or related objects (e.g. M31-RV, V4332 Sgr)

The SOC of the Conference is composed of

Nagarhalli Ashok India
Howard Bond USA
Romano Corradi (co-chair) Spain
Silvano Desidera Italy
Aneurin Evans UK
Arne Henden USA
Tonu Kipper Estonia
Ulisse Munari (co-chair) Italy
Noam Soker Israel
Sumner Starrfield USA
Oscar Straniero Italy
Jacco van Loon UK
Patricia Whitelock South Africa

and the Conference LOC is composed of

Romano Corradi
Javier Mendez
Ulisse Munari
Pierre Leisy
Margaret Lennon
Miguel Santander
Alessandro Siviero


The Conference' Proceedings will be edited by R.L.M.Corradi and
U.Munari. Negotiations are in progress for publication on the ASP
(Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

The conference, organized by the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes,
will be held in the Hotel H10 Taburiente Playa in Los Cancajos, a
quiet beach resort located between the airport and the capital Santa
Cruz de La Palma. We expect most participants to be based in the
hotel, which offers very attractive prices for participants (even
cheaper accommodation is available in the attached H10 Costa Salinas
Apartments that belong to the same hotel chain).

The registration fee has been fixed at 200 Euros for registration
earlier than Nov 15, 2005, and is payable upon arrival at the conference.
It is expected to cover the Proceedings book, coffee breaks, and all social
events (social dinner, excursions).
A late registration will be possible until 15 Feb 2006, with the
registration fee increased to 250 Euro.

We are applying to various funding agencies. If these applications are
successful, limited financial help might be available for applicants
who are short of funding.

The scientific program will be finalized by SOC after the registration by
the participants has been completed. Plenty of time for discussion
will be allocated during the conference.

To register as a participant go to the Conference web-page

and fill in the registration form.

---- DEADLINES ----

The most important dates and deadlines are:

* Nov 15 2005 for early registration
* Feb 15 2006 for late registration
* Mar 15 2006 closing of abstract book
* Apr 15 2006 block booking of hotel rooms expires
* Jun 20 2006 for submitting the contributions to the Proceedings

Contact: Romano Corradi & Ulisse Munari
(Co-chairs, SOC & LOC)