Novae are thermonuclear explosions on a white dwarf surface fueled by mass accreted from a companion star. Current physical models posit that shocked expanding gas from the nova shell can produce x-ray emission, but emission at higher energies has not been widely expected. Here, we report the Fermi Large Area Telescope detection of variable γ-ray emission (0.1 to 10 billion electron volts) from the recently detected optical nova of the symbiotic star V407 Cygni. We propose that the material of the nova shell interacts with the dense ambient medium of the red giant primary and that particles can be accelerated effectively to produce π0 decay γ-rays from proton-proton interactions. Emission involving inverse Compton scattering of the red giant radiation is also considered and is not ruled out.
ASJC Scopus subject areas