University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

From the same journal

By the same authors

VVV-WIT-01: highly obscured classical nova or protostellar collision?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • 2001.05536v1

    Accepted author manuscript, 2.9 MB, PDF document

  • staa155

    Final published version, 2.76 MB, PDF document

  • D. Minniti
  • A. Kamble
  • D. L. Kaplan
  • N. Cross
  • I. Dekany
  • V. D. Ivanov
  • R. Kurtev
  • R. K. Saito
  • L. C. Smith
  • M. Catelan
  • N. Masetti
  • I. Toledo
  • M. Hempel
  • M. A. Thompson
  • C. Contreras Peña
  • J. Dale
  • J. Borissova
  • J.P. Emerson
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4847–4857
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


A search of the first Data Release of the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) Survey discovered the exceptionally red transient VVV-WIT-01 (H-Ks=5.2). It peaked before March 2010, then faded by ~9.5 mag over the following two years. The 1.6-22 µm spectral energy distribution in March 2010 was well fit by a highly obscured black body with T ~ 1000 K and AKs ~ 6.6 mag. The source is projected against the Infrared Dark Cloud (IRDC) SDC G331.062-0.294. The chance projection probability is small for any single event (p ≈ 0.01 to 0.02) which suggests a physical association, e.g. a collision between low mass protostars. However, black body emission at T ~ 1000 K is common in classical novae (especially CO novae) at the infrared peak in the light curve, due to condensation of dust ~30-60 days after the explosion. Radio follow up with the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) detected a fading continuum source with properties consistent with a classical nova but probably inconsistent with colliding protostars. Considering all VVV transients that could have been projected against a catalogued IRDC raises the probability of a chance association to p=0.13 to 0.24. After weighing several options, it appears likely that VVV-WIT-01 was a classical nova event located behind an IRDC.


© 2020 The Author(s).

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