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Astron. Astrophys. 326, 629-631 (1997)

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1. Introduction

The hypothesis that novae hibernate in the millenia between outbursts predicts that very old novae should be much less luminous than those seen in the 20th century, because mass transfer in these systems has diminished or stopped entirely (Shara et al. 1986). Nova hibernation theory has a serious drawback, though: not one old nova has ever clearly been shown to be hibernating (Naylor et al. 1992; Mukai & Naylor 1995; Somers et al. 1996, 1997). To test the theory, it is therefore essential to recover novae as old as possible. Among the oldest novae listed in the catalog of Duerbeck (1987) is V529 Ori, or Nova Ori 1667.

Our knowledge of V529 Ori has a complex history. It was discovered at [FORMULA] by J. Hevelius during a lunar occultation. Although claimed several times to be a recurrent nova, it probably is not one: all but the first account have been discredited as duplications of the original observation (Ashbrook 1963; Duerbeck 1987; Webbink et al. 1987). Details surrounding the original observation, such as the date of observation, have also been called into question (Ashworth 1981): it should be 1678, not 1667.

Recently, a Newswire item in Sky & Telescope magazine reported that this nova had been recovered, and was in deep hibernation. This Newswire item was originally uncredited, but it was written by R. T. Fienberg (1996, private communication) and so will be referenced here as Fienberg (1995). It was based on a poster paper by Wagner et al. (1994), although Nova Ori 1667 is not mentioned in the proceedings abstract.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: October 15, 1997