We present the observation of an extraordinary luminous soft X-ray transient, MAXI J0158-744, by the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) on 2011 November 11. This transient is characterized by a soft X-ray spectrum, a short duration (1.3 × 103 s < ΔTd < 1.10 × 10 4 s), a rapid rise (<5.5 × 103 s), and a huge peak luminosity of 2 × 1040 erg s-1 in 0.7-7.0 keV band. With Swift observations and optical spectroscopy from the Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System, we confirmed that the transient is a nova explosion, on a white dwarf in a binary with a Be star, located near the Small Magellanic Cloud. An early turn-on of the super-soft X-ray source (SSS) phase (<0.44 days), the short SSS phase duration of about one month, and a 0.92 keV neon emission line found in the third MAXI scan, 1296 s after the first detection, suggest that the explosion involves a small amount of ejecta and is produced on an unusually massive O-Ne white dwarf close to, or possibly over, the Chandrasekhar limit. We propose that the huge luminosity detected with MAXI was due to the fireball phase, a direct manifestation of the ignition of the thermonuclear runaway process in a nova explosion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science