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Astron. Astrophys. 355, 256-260 (2000)

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1. Introduction

Nova is a phenomenon in which huge energy ([FORMULA] erg) and material ([FORMULA] [FORMULA]) are suddenly released. It is widely accepted that a nova eruption is triggered by the thermonuclear runaway on the surface of a compact degenerate star following mass transfer from a late type companion.

In many cases, the ejected material is considered to expand non-spherically and inhomogeneously even during the early stage of the outburst. To study such asymmetrically distributed circumstellar material, spectropolarimetry is a very useful method, because not only we can obtain information on the asymmetry itself from linear polarization, but also it permits separation between the line and continuum components, which easily enables us to estimate the foreground interstellar polarization. In addition, information on the wavelength dependence of continuum polarization is of great benefit on distinguishing the origin of the polarization. (e.g. we can estimate which of electrons or dust grains are the scattering matter.) However, few spectropolarimetric observations of novae have been carried out in the past (e.g. Bjorkman et al. 1994). We carried out spectropolarimetry of recent novae or nova like objects (CI Cam, Nova Sgr 1998, and U Sco). In this paper, we report the observational results and briefly discuss the intrinsic polarization for these objects.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: March 17, 2000