AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 37. Stellar Mass Black Holes
Display, Thursday, January 13, 2000, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[37.06] A Cosmic Masquerade: Are Novae Disguised Black Holes?

C. Knez (U. Virginia), F. A. Ringwald (Florida Institute of Technology)

Before the 1960s, the X-rays from soft X-ray transients (SXTs) were never detected, since there were no spacecraft. SXT outbursts are thought to be dwarf nova outbursts in black hole binaries. Since, in the visual, SXT outbursts have amplitudes exceeding 10 magnitudes and durations of many weeks, they may have been mistaken for classical novae. V404 Cygni was: it was originally known as Nova Cygni 1938.

We report time-resolved photometry from the 0.92-m SARA telescope to search for ellipsoidal variations in the old novae FS Sct (1952) and V606 Aql (1899). Since we expect black holes to be more massive than white dwarfs, we expect these ellipsoidal variations to tell whether these are black hole systems or old novae. We find a possible variation in FS Sct, although more cycles are needed to confirm it. We also find that for V606 Aql, neither candidate star 1 nor 2 of Duerbeck (1987) flicker, as old novae or SXTs do. Is this nova lost, or perhaps hibernating?

This work was funded by the NSF through the SARA Research Experiences for Undergraduates Summer Internship Program (NSF AST--9619939).

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: ringwald@astro.fit.edu

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