As part of a program to determine the stellar population of novae, we have conducted a multiepoch Hα survey of the galaxies M51, M87, and M101. A total of nine and 12 novae were detected in the spiral galaxies M51 and M101, respectively, during four epochs of observation, and two epochs of observation yielded a total of nine novae in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. After correcting for the effective survey time and for the fraction of luminosity sampled, we find global nova rates of 18 ± 7, 91 ± 34, and 12 ± 4 novae per year for M51, M87, and M101, respectively. After normalizing to the total K-band luminosity of each galaxy, we estimate luminosity-specific nova rates for M51, M87, and M101 of 1.09 ± 0.47, 2.30 ± 0.99, and 0.97 ± 0.38 novae per year per 1010 solar luminosities in K. When we compare these data with measured values for the luminosity-specific nova rates of other galaxies, we find no compelling evidence for a significant variation with Hubble type. Possible ramifications of this result are discussed within the context of current theoretical models for nova production in galaxies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science