PI: Howard E. Bond, Space Telescope Science Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
Title: SMARTS Monitoring of the Exotic Variable Star V838 Monocerotis
Abstract: In recent years, several luminous red stellar transients have been discovered, with maximum brightnesses lying between those of novae and supernovae. A prototype is the Galactic star V838 Monocerotis, whose 2002 outburst illuminated a spectacular light echo, extensively imaged by \it HST \null. Polarimetric imaging of the echo with \it HST has yielded a geometric distance of 6.2 kpc, making V838 Mon at maximum intermediate in luminosity between a classical nova and a subluminous Type II SN\null. Possibly related intermediate-luminosity transients have been discovered recently in the nearby galaxies M31, NGC 300 (two such events), M85, M99, and NGC 6946. Unlike a nova, V838 Mon remained a luminous red supergiant throughout its outburst. Recently, the slowly expanding dusty photosphere of V838 Mon has ingested a B-type companion star, leading to spectacular photometric and spectroscopic variability. X rays were detected at that time, but it remains unclear whether these were related to the interaction with the B star, or were due to flaring on a rotating merged binary. I propose to continue to monitor these changes using synoptic service observing with the SMARTS 1.3m (photometry) and 1.5m (spectroscopy) telescopes.
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