The distance to nova V959 Mon from VLA imaging

J. D. Linford, V. A.R.M. Ribeiro, L. Chomiuk, T. Nelson, J. L. Sokoloski, M. P. Rupen, K. Mukai, T. J. O'Brien, A. J. Mioduszewski, J. Weston

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Determining reliable distances to classical novae is a challenging but crucial step in deriving their ejected masses and explosion energetics. Here we combine radio expansion measurements from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array with velocities derived from optical spectra to estimate an expansion parallax for nova V959 Mon, the first nova discovered through its γ-ray emission. We spatially resolve the nova at frequencies of 4.5-36.5 GHz in nine different imaging epochs. The first five epochs cover the expansion of the ejecta from 2012 October to 2013 January, while the final four epochs span 2014 February-May. These observations correspond to days 126 through 199 and days 615 through 703 after the first detection of the nova. The images clearly show a non-spherical ejecta geometry. Utilizing ejecta velocities derived from three-dimensional modeling of optical spectroscopy, the radio expansion implies a distance between 0.9 ± 0.2 and 2.2 ± 0.4 kpc, with a most probable distance of 1.4 ± 0.4 kpc. This distance implies a γ-ray luminosity of erg s-1, which is much less than the prototype γ-ray-detected nova, V407 Cyg, possibly due to the lack of a red giant companion in the V959 Mon system. V959 Mon also has a much lower γ-ray luminosity than other classical novae detected in γ-rays to date, indicating a range of at least a factor of 10 in the γ-ray luminosities for these explosions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • gamma rays: stars
  • novae cataclysmic variables
  • radio continuum: stars
  • stars: individual (V959 Mon)
  • white dwarfs


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