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Published February 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

PTF10nvg: An Outbursting Class I Protostar in the Pelican/North American Nebula


During a synoptic survey of the North American Nebula region, the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) detected an optical outburst (dubbed PTF10nvg) associated with the previously unstudied flat or rising spectrum infrared source IRAS 20496+4354. The PTF R-band light curve reveals that PTF10nvg brightened by more than 5 mag during the current outburst, rising to a peak magnitude of R_(PTF) ≈ 13.5 in 2010 September. Follow-up observations indicate that PTF10nvg has undergone a similar ~5 mag brightening in the K band and possesses a rich emission-line spectrum, including numerous lines commonly assumed to trace mass accretion and outflows. Many of these lines are blueshifted by ~175 km s^(–1) from the North American Nebula's rest velocity, suggesting that PTF10nvg is driving an outflow. Optical spectra of PTF10nvg show several TiO/VO band heads fully in emission, indicating the presence of an unusual amount of dense (>10^(10) cm^(–3)), warm (1500-4000 K) circumstellar material. Near-infrared spectra of PTF10nvg appear quite similar to a spectrum of McNeil's Nebula/V1647 Ori, a young star which has undergone several brightenings in recent decades, and 06297+1021W, a Class I protostar with a similarly reached near-infrared emission line spectrum. While further monitoring is required to fully understand this event, we conclude that the brightening of PTF10nvg is indicative of enhanced accretion and outflow in this Class-I-type protostellar object, similar to the behavior of V1647 Ori in 2004-2005.

Additional Information

© 2011 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 October 14; accepted 2010 November 12; published 2011 January 5. The authors are grateful to Michael T. Kandrashoff, Christopher V. Griffith, A. Cucchiara, Daniel A. Perley, and A. N. Morgan for their assistance in obtaining the LRIS and Kast spectra presented here. We are also grateful to the Directors of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and Apache Point Observatory (APO), whose allocation of Director's Discretionary Time enabled the acquisition of the SpeX and TripleSpec spectra presented here. We also thank ErikaGibb for making available archival SpeX observations of V1647 Ori, Tom Greene for a helpful discussion of NIR shock tracers, and Michael Eracleous for a useful discussion of symbiotic binaries and other accreting systems. K.R.C. acknowledges support for this work from the Hubble Fellowship Program, provided by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF-51253.01-A awarded by the STScI, which is operated by the AURA, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555. J.S.B., D.A.P., C.K., A.A.M., and D.A.S. acknowledge support of an NSF-CDI grant, "Real-Time Classification of Massive Time-Series Data Streams" (Award 0941742).A.V.F.'s group is grateful for the support of NSF grant AST-0908886, the TABASGO Foundation, Gary and Cynthia Bengier, and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. PAIRITEL is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and was made possible by a grant from the Harvard University Milton Fund, a camera loan from the University of Virginia, and continued support of the SAO and UC Berkeley. The PAIRITEL project and those working on PAIRITEL data are further supported by NASA/Swift Guest Investigator Programs NNX09AQ66Q and NNX10A128G. This work was also based in part on observations obtained with the Apache Point Observatory 3.5 m telescope, which is owned and operated by the Astrophysical Research Consortium. We are grateful for the assistance of the staffs at all of the observatories used to obtain the data. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services, the SIMBAD database, operated at CDS, Strasbourg, France, the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database, operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the VizieR database of astronomical catalogs (Ochsenbein et al. 2000). This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Facilities: PO:1.2m, PO:1.5m, Hale, Keck:I, Keck:II, FLWO: 1.2m, ARC, Shane

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