Thomas Nelson - University Wisconsin

Thomas Nelson
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Thomas Nelson
University Wisconsin
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (16)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (12)
Astrophysics (1)
Computer Science - Programming Languages (1)
Computer Science - Mathematical Software (1)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (1)
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Publications Authored By Thomas Nelson

It has recently been discovered that some, if not all, classical novae emit GeV gamma-rays during outburst, but the mechanics of this gamma-ray emission are still not well understood. We present here a comprehensive, multi-wavelength dataset---from radio to X-rays---for the most gamma-ray luminous classical nova to-date, V1324 Sco. Using this dataset, we show that V1324 Sco is a canonical dusty Fe-II type nova, with a bulk ejecta velocity of $1150 \pm 40~\rm km~s^{-1}$ and an ejecta mass of $2. Read More

Since the Fermi discovery of $\gamma$-rays from novae, one of the biggest questions in the field has been how novae generate such high-energy emission. Shocks must be a fundamental ingredient. Six months of radio observations of the 2012 nova V5589 Sgr with the VLA and 15 weeks of X-ray observations with Swift/XRT show that the radio emission consisted of: 1) a shock-powered, non-thermal flare; and 2) weak thermal emission from $10^{-5}$ M$_\odot$ of freely expanding, photoionized ejecta. Read More

The importance of shocks in nova explosions has been highlighted by Fermi's discovery of \gamma-ray producing novae. Over three years of multi-band VLA radio observations of the 2010 nova V1723 Aql show that shocks between fast and slow flows within the ejecta led to the acceleration of particles and the production of synchrotron radiation. Soon after the start of the eruption, shocks in the ejecta produced an unexpected radio flare, resulting in a multi-peaked radio light curve. Read More

Classical novae are the most common astrophysical thermonuclear explosions, occurring on the surfaces of white dwarf stars accreting gas from companions in binary star systems. Novae typically expel ~10^(-4) solar masses of material at velocities exceeding 1,000 kilometres per second. However, the mechanism of mass ejection in novae is poorly understood, and could be dominated by the impulsive flash of thermonuclear energy, prolonged optically thick winds, or binary interaction with the nova envelope. Read More

The recurrent nova T Pyx underwent its sixth historical outburst in 2011, and became the subject of an intensive multi-wavelength observational campaign. We analyze data from the Swift and Suzaku satellites to produce a detailed X-ray light curve augmented by epochs of spectral information. X-ray observations yield mostly non-detections in the first four months of outburst, but both a super-soft and hard X-ray component rise rapidly after Day 115. Read More

Evidence for shocks in nova outflows include (1) multiple velocity components in the optical spectra; (2) keV X-ray emission weeks to months after the outburst; (3) early radio flare on timescales of months, in excess of that predicted from the freely expanding photo-ionized gas; and (4) ~ GeV gamma-rays. We present a 1D model for the shock interaction between the fast nova outflow and a dense external shell (DES) and its associated thermal X-ray, optical, and radio emission. The forward shock is radiative initially when the density of shocked gas is highest, at which times radio emission originates from the dense cooling layer immediately downstream of the shock. Read More

The radio light curves of novae rise and fall over the course of months to years, allowing for detailed observations of the evolution of the nova shell. However, the main parameter determined by radio models of nova explosions - the mass of the ejecta - often seems to exceed theoretical expectations by an order of magnitude. With the recent technological improvements on the Karl G. Read More

Novae, which are the sudden visual brightening triggered by runaway thermonuclear burning on the surface of an accreting white dwarf, are fairly common and bright events. Despite their astronomical significance as nearby laboratories for the study of nuclear burning and accretion phenomena, many aspects of these common stellar explosions are observationally not well-constrained and remain poorly understood. Radio observations, modeling and interpretation can potentially play a crucial role in addressing some of these puzzling issues. Read More

Despite being the prototype of its class, T Pyx is arguably the most unusual and poorly understood recurrent nova. Here, we use radio observations from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array to trace the evolution of the ejecta over the course of the 2011 outburst of T Pyx. Read More

We present multi-frequency radio observations of the 2010 nova event in the symbiotic binary V407 Cygni, obtained with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array and spanning 1-45 GHz and 17-770 days following discovery. This nova---the first ever detected in gamma rays---shows a radio light curve dominated by the wind of the Mira giant companion, rather than the nova ejecta themselves. Read More

Scientific programmers often turn to vendor-tuned Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms (BLAS) to obtain portable high performance. However, many numerical algorithms require several BLAS calls in sequence, and those successive calls result in suboptimal performance. The entire sequence needs to be optimized in concert. Read More

Classical nova events in symbiotic stars, although rare, offer a unique opportunity to probe the interaction between ejecta and a dense environment in stellar explosions. In this work, we use X-ray data obtained with Swift and Suzaku during the recent classical nova outburst in V407 Cyg to explore such an interaction. We find evidence of both equilibrium and non-equilibrium ionization plasmas at the time of peak X-ray brightness, indicating a strong asymmetry in the density of the emitting region. Read More

We present a summary of Swift and Suzaku X-ray observations of the 2010 nova outburst of the symbiotic star, V407 Cyg. The Suzaku spectrum obtained on day 30 indicates the presence of the supersoft component from the white dwarf surface, as well as optically thin component from the shock between the nova ejecta and the Mira wind. The Swift observations then allow us to track the evolution of both components from day 4 to day 150. Read More

We present recent results of quiescent X-ray observations of recurrent novae (RNe) and related objects. Several RNe are luminous hard X-ray sources in quiescence, consistent with accretion onto a near Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. Detection of similar hard X-ray emissions in old novae and other cataclysmic variables may lead to identification of additional RN candidates. Read More

In a dwarf nova, the accretion disk around the white dwarf is a source of ultraviolet, optical, and infrared photons, but is never hot enough to emit X-rays. Observed X-rays instead originate from the boundary layer between the disk and the white dwarf. As the disk switches between quiescence and outburst states, the 2-10 keV X-ray flux is usually seen to be anti-correlated with the optical brightness. Read More

We present radio light curves and spectra of the classical nova V1723 Aql obtained with the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). This is the first paper to showcase results from the EVLA Nova Project, which comprises a team of observers and theorists utilizing the greatly enhanced sensitivity and frequency coverage of EVLA radio observations, along with observations at other wavelengths, to reach a deeper understanding of the energetics, morphology, and temporal characteristics of nova explosions. Our observations of V1723 Aql span 1-37 GHz in frequency, and we report on data from 14-175 days following the time of the nova explosion. Read More


RS Ophiuchi is a recurrent nova system that experiences outbursts every ~20 years, implying accretion at a high rate onto a massive white dwarf. However, previous X-ray observations of the system in quiescence have detected only faint emission that is difficult to reconcile with the high accretion rate predicted by nova theory for such frequent outbursts. Here, we use new Chandra and XMM-Newton observations obtained 537 and 744 days after the 2006 outburst to constrain both the accretion rate onto the white dwarf and the properties of the nova ejecta at these times. Read More

We report on observations of a luminous supersoft X-ray source (SSS) in M31, r1-25, that has exhibited spectral changes to harder X-ray states. We document these spectral changes. In addition, we show that they have important implications for modeling the source. Read More

Affiliations: 1U. Wisconsin, 2U. Wisconsin, INAF Padova, 3U. Wisconsin, 4SAAO, 5Wise Observatory, Tel Aviv, 6Universita di Padova
Category: Astrophysics

We present the X-ray grating spectra of the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi during its 2006 outburst, obtained with the XMM-Newton and Chandra observatories. Two weeks after optical maximum, the X-ray spectrum was hard and dominated by emission lines of H-like and He-like ions. The X-ray luminosity was 2. Read More