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- Nova shells are characteristically prolate with equatorial bands and polar caps. Failure to account for the geometry can lead to large errors in expansion parallaxes for individual novae. When simple prescriptions are used for deriving expansion parallaxes from an ensemble of randomly oriented prolate spheroids, the average distance will be too small by factors of 10 to 15 percent. The absolute magnitudes of the novae will be underestimated and the resulting distance scale will be too small by the same factors. If observations of partially resolved nova shells select for large inclinations, the systematic error in the resulting distance scale could easily be 20 to 30 percent. Extinction by dust in the bulge of M31 may broaden and shift the intrinsic distribution of maximum nova magnitudes versus decay rates. We investigated this possibility by projecting Arp's and Rosino's novae onto a composite B - 6200A color map of M31's bulge. Thirty two of the 86 novae projected onto a smooth background with no underlying structure due to the presence of a dust cloud along the line of sight. The distribution of maximum magnitudes versus fade rates for these unreddened novae is indistinguishable from the distribution for the entire set of novae. It is concluded that novae suffer very little extinction from the filamentary and patchy distribution of dust seen in the bulge of M31. Time average B and H alpha nova luminosity functions are potentially powerful new ways to use novae as standard candles. Modern CCD observations and the photographic light curves of M31 novae found during the last 60 years were analyzed to show that these functions are power laws. Consequently, unless the eruption times for novae are known, the data cannot be used to obtain distances.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19910002292.
Accession ID: 91N11605.
- No Copyright.
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