T Pyx’s Slow and Steady Brightening

Recurrent nova T Pyxidis continues to slowly brighten in the southern evening sky. The digital camera image below was taken by Bob Lunsford through a Celestron C9.25 schmidt-cassegrain telescope. T Pyx is the bright, slightly bluish star just to the lower right of center.

Image of T Pyx (2011 April 16 UT) and the surrounding star field with a C9.25 telescope and Canon PowerShot S2 camera. T Pyx is the bright bluish star near the center. Credit: Bob Lunsford.

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After rapidly brightening from a faint 15th magnitude to 8th magnitude in only 2 days, T Pyx’s rate of brightening has substantially slowed down. Over the past ~5 nights the nova has only brightened by an additional ~0.5 magnitudes. Last night I used 10×50 binoculars to estimate it at magnitude 7.5.

If T Pyx behaves as it did during its last outburst in 1966 it’s brightening trend should stop during the next few nights. Then for the next week or so its brightness will remain constant. After this short pause, the brightening trend will resume with an estimated peak around magnitude 6.3 in mid-May. That’s of course, if the nova follows the same playbook as it did in 1966 which is not a given.

Visual lightcurve based on visual observations submitted to the AAVSO. Credit: AAVSO.

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

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