October 2021 • 2021ApJ...920..127J
Abstract • Nova eruptions, thermonuclear explosions on the surfaces of white dwarfs (WDs), are now recognized to be among the most common shock-powered astrophysical transients. We present the early discovery and rapid ultraviolet (UV), optical, and infrared (IR) temporal development of AT 2019qyl, a recent nova in the nearby Sculptor Group galaxy NGC 300. The light curve shows a rapid rise lasting ≲1 day, reaching a peak absolute magnitude of MV = -9.2 mag and a very fast decline, fading by 2 mag over 3.5 days. A steep dropoff in the light curves after 71 days and the rapid decline timescale suggest a low-mass ejection from a massive WD with MWD ≳ 1.2 M⊙. We present an unprecedented view of the early spectroscopic evolution of such an event. Three spectra prior to the peak reveal a complex, multicomponent outflow giving rise to internal collisions and shocks in the ejecta of an He/N-class nova. We identify a coincident IR-variable counterpart in the extensive preeruption coverage of the transient location and infer the presence of a symbiotic progenitor system with an O-rich asymptotic-giant-branch donor star, as well as evidence for an earlier UV-bright outburst in 2014. We suggest that AT 2019qyl is analogous to the subset of Galactic recurrent novae with red-giant companions such as RS Oph and other embedded nova systems like V407 Cyg. Our observations provide new evidence that internal shocks between multiple, distinct outflow components likely contribute to the generation of the shock-powered emission from such systems. * This paper includes data gathered with the 6.5 m Magellan Telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. † Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained from the data archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.