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Astronomy & Astrophysics




EDP Sciences


Context. In the central part of M 31, a high number of optical novae can be targeted within the field of view of the XMM-Newton EPIC and Chandra HRC-I X-ray detectors. A special monitoring program of the area has allowed us to investigate supersoft emission of individual novae in detail and perform a statistical analysis of the sample. Aims. For the He/N nova M31N 2007-12b, we aimed to constrain the time of appearance of a supersoft source (SSS) and the duration of the SSS state as well as determine the spectral and time variability while the source was bright. Methods. We analyzed XMM-Newton EPIC and Chandra HRC-I observations of our monitoring program performed at intervals of ten days and added results of a XMM-Newton target of opportunity observation and Swift XRT observations. We performed source detection, determined long-term time and spectral variation of M31N 2007-12b, and searched for shorter-term time variability in the individual observations when the source was bright, using fast Fourier and folding techniques to analyze periodicities. Results. The SSS emission started between 21 and 30 d after the optical outburst and ended between 60 and 120 d after outburst, making M31N 2007-12b one of the few novae with the shortest SSS phase known. The X-ray spectrum was supersoft and can be fitted with a white dwarf (WD) atmosphere model with solar abundances absorbed by the Galactic foreground. The temperature of the WD atmosphere seems to increase at the beginning of the SSS phase from ∼70 to ∼80 eV. The luminosity of M31N 2007-12b during maximum was at the Eddington limit of a massive WD and dropped by ∼30% in the observation 60 d after outburst. The radius of the emission region is ∼6 ×10^8 cm. In the four bright state observations, we detected a stable 1110 s pulsation, which we interpret as the WD rotation period. In addition, we detect dips in three observations that might represent a 4.9 h or 9.8 h binary period of the system. Conclusions. Nova envelope models with <∼50% mixing between solar-like accreted material and the degenerate core of the WD can be used to describe the data. We derive a WD mass of 1.2 M, as well as an ejected and burned mass of 2.0×10^−6 Mand 0.2×10^−6 M, respectively. The observed periodicities indicate that nova M31N 2007-12b erupted in an intermediate polar (IP) system. The WD photospheric radius seems to be larger than expected for a non-magnetic WD but in the range for magnetic WDs in an IP system.


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