Context. Nova Eridani (2009) caught the eye of the nova community due to its fast decline from maximum, which was initially missed, and its subsequent development in the radio and X-ray wavelengths. This system also exhibits properties similar to those of the much smaller class of recurrent novae; themselves potential progenitors of type Ia supernovae. Aims. We aim to determine the nature and physical parameters of the KT Eri progenitor system. Methods. We searched the Harvard College Observatory archive plates for the progenitor of KT Eri to determine the nature of the system, particularly the evolutionary stage of the secondary. We used the data obtained to search for any periodic signal and the derived luminosity to estimate a recurrence timescale. Furthermore, by comparing the colours of the quiescent system on a colour-magnitude diagram we may infer the nature of the secondary star. Results. We identified the progenitor system of KT Eri and measured a quiescent magnitude of (B) = 14.7 ± 0.4. No previous outburst was found. However, we suggest that if the nova is recurrent it should be on a timescale of centuries. We find a periodicity at quiescence of 737 days which may arise from reflection effects and/or eclipses in the central binary. The periodicity and the quiescence magnitude of the system suggest that the secondary star is evolved and likely in, or ascending, the Red Giant Branch. A second period is evident at 376 days which has a sinusoidal like light curve. Furthermore, the outburst amplitude of ∼9 mag is inconsistent with those expected for fast classical novae (∼17 mag) which may lend further support for an evolved secondary. Conclusions. We investigated the probable recurrent nova KT Eri for which we suggest an inter-outburst period of order centuries and an evolved secondary. This may suggest that there is a whole range of possible inter-outburst periods in between the "typical" classical and recurrent novae nomenclature. Archival searches are an excellent tool in order to investigate the nature of astrophysical objects, in order to determine the nature and physical parameters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science