Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Nikos Prantzos
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1073-4


A nova is a stellar eruption, resulting from explosive H-fusion on the surface of a white dwarf in a binary system. Accretion from the companion star increases the pressure and temperature at the base of the H-layer (on top the carbon-oxygen white dwarf) up to the point where thermonuclear reactions (the so-called hot CNO cycle) ignite. The explosion is much weaker than that of a supernova, it does not disrupt the white dwarf, and it may occur many times, on timescales from tens to thousands of years. The frequency of novae in the Milky Way is estimated to 40 novae per year.

See Also


Binary System Bioorganic Chemistry White Dwarf Companion Star Thermonuclear Reaction 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut d’Astrophysique de ParisParisFrance