January 2014 • 2014AJ....147...11M
Abstract • Nova Sco 2008 was recently shown to have resulted from the merger of the two stars in the contact binary V1309 Sco. This is the first stellar merger ever observed between two convective stars. We present archival data, new infrared photometry, and Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 imaging of V1309 Sco. Spitzer observations show that it had a large infrared excess in the 3.6 μm to 8 μm range more than a year before the merger. Standard color diagnostics of the pre-merger infrared colors place V1309 Sco in the same region where evolved stars with chemically complex mass loss are located. Since the nova outburst subsided in optical bandpasses in 2008, the merger remnant's brightness in optical bandpasses, near-IR bandpasses, and the Spitzer 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm channels has varied by several magnitudes and in complex ways. A temporary, strong increase in the reddening during 2010 suggests the occurrence of a dust formation event. We point out several peculiarities in the relative fluxes and time behavior of the optical and near-IR magnitudes, which could be explained if some of the photometric bandpasses in the 1-5 μm range are strongly affected by emission lines.