EMBARGOED For Release: 1 p.m., EDT, Wednesday, July 19, 2006
"Special Case" Stellar Blast Teaching Astronomers New Lessons About Cosmic Explosions
Radio images of RS Ophiuchi at 21 (top) and 27 (bottom) days after the outburst, as observed with the VLBA at a wavelength of 18 centimeters. The expanding shell shows radii roughly 27 and 30 times the Earth-Sun distance in these images, matching that expected from X-ray observations of the same object (Sokoloski et al.), assuming a distance of about 5200 light-years. The "jet" to the east (left), clearly present on day 27, is not seen on day 21. Such jets have been seen in white dwarf systems in the past, but never so clearly and so early. In particular, these images give the most precise measurement yet of how soon a jet appears after an outburst. Images from Rupen, Mioduszewski, & Sokoloski; a similar, independent imaging sequence appears in O'Brien et al.