A Conference Organised by the ING on the Nature of V838 Monocerotis and Its Spectacular Light Echo
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Home > Public Information > ING Newsletter > No. 10, December 2005 > A Conference Organised by the ING on the Nature of V838 Monocerotis and Its Spectacular Light Echo

ING Newsletter No. 10, December 2005

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Reference: ING Newsl., No. 10, page 24.
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A Conference Organised by the ING on the Nature of V838 Monocerotis and Its Spectacular Light Echo

Romano Corradi* (ING)

The ING is organising a conference on “The Nature of V838 Mon and Its Light Echo”, that will be held from May 16th to 19th, 2006, in the Hotel H10 Taburiente Playa in the beach resort of Los Cancajos, near Santa Cruz de la Palma.

The outburst of V838 Monocerotis was discovered in 2002, and 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 MV=–10 mag). During and after the outburst, V838 Mon displayed a complex light curve and spectral evolution. In spite of large ejection velocities at the outburst onset (~500km/sec), the ejecta never reached optically thin conditions, and became cooler and cooler with time, and finally entering the new realm of L-type supergiants, a spectral type never seen before in the Universe and characterised by temperatures so low that were previously measured only in brown dwarfs.

Besides this, V838 Mon became one a major attraction in stellar astrophysics by displaying a bright circumstellar light- echo, the first one seen in our Galaxy in the last 70 years (see the image in the accompanying poster). HST soon started imaging the light-echo evolution, providing spectacular images that appeared even on the front cover of Nature (issue number 422, 2003), and will continue the monitoring in the next seasons.

Announcing poster. [ JPEG | TIFF ]

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, in La Palma. The conference aims to bring together researchers interested in V838 Mon and related stars, in light-echos, in the atmospheres and chemistry of 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.

The organisers of the conference and co-chairs of the scientific organising committee are Romano Corradi, from the ING, and Ulisse Munari, from the Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy. Financial support will be provided by the ING, the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, the Excmo. Cabildo Insular de La Palma, and the Patronato de Turismo de La Palma.

More information is provided on the conference web page at: http://www.ing.iac.es/conferences/v838mon/. ¤

*: Email contact: Romano Corradi ()

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