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Astron. Astrophys. 364, L1-L5 (2000)

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1. Introduction

The symbiotic nova RR Tel is an extraordinary laboratory for spectroscopic studies of low-density astrophysical plasmas on account of the richness of its emission line spectrum that covers a wide range in ionization and excitation stages. Since the fundamental study by Thackeray (1977), new optical observations with higher spectral resolution and S/N ratio have have gradually improved the quality of the data and have allowed the identification of weaker and blended spectral features (see McKenna et al. 1997, and Crawford et al. 1999). Also, the presence of a strict correlation between the FWHM and the ionization level of the emission lines, as pointed out by Thackeray (1977) and confirmed by Penston et al. (1983), has provided a simple but powerful tool for the identification of spectral lines that has not yet been fully exploited. With this in mind, we have taken advantage of very recent high resolution VLT-UVES observations of RR Tel to revisit the spectral features of the nova and to perform an ab initio identification of its emission features. We present here some highlights of these recent observations, deferring to a next paper a detailed description of the spectral identifications and measurements.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 15, 2000