The theory of steady-state super-Eddington winds and its application to novae

Nir J. Shaviv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


We present a model for steady-state winds of systems with super-Eddington luminosities. These radiatively driven winds are expected to be optically thick and clumpy as they arise from an instability-driven porous atmosphere. The model is then applied to derive the mass loss observed in bright classical novae. The main results are as follows. (i) A general relation between the mass-loss rate and the total luminosity in super-Eddington systems. (ii) A natural explanation of the long-duration super-Eddington outflows that are clearly observed in at least two cases (Novae LMC 1988 #1 and FH Serpentis). (iii) A qualitative agreement between the prediction and observations of the mass loss and temperature evolution. (iv) An agreement between the predicted average integrated mass loss of novae as a function of white dwarf mass and its observations. (v) A natural explanation for the 'transition phase' of novae. (vi) Agreement with η Carinae, which was used to double check the theory: the prediction for the mass shed in the star's great eruption agrees with observations to within the measurement error.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-146
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Novae, cataclysmic variables
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: atmospheres


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