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IAUC 8137: 2003em; 1988ai; eta Car

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                                                  Circular No. 8137
Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
Mailstop 18, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
IAUSUBS@CFA.HARVARD.EDU or FAX 617-495-7231 (subscriptions)
URL http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/cbat.html  ISSN 0081-0304
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SUPERNOVA 2003em IN ESO 478-G6
     Further to IAUC 8016, L. A. G. Monard reports his discovery of
an apparent supernova (R = 17.2) on unfiltered CCD images taken on
May 27.158 UT (confirmed at R = 16.7 on May 28.135).  The new
object is located at R.A. = 2h09m20s.23, Decl. = -23o24'53".0
(equinox 2000.0), which is 32" east and 2" north of the nucleus of
ESO 478-G6.  SN 2003em is absent from previous Monard images (Mar.
10.7 and earlier) and a red DSS image.

     R. Evans, Hazelbrook, N.S.W., reports his discovery of an
apparent supernova (mag about 16) on a European Southern
Observatory red-survey film taken on 1988 Nov. 7.  R. H. McNaught,
Siding Spring Observatory, provides the following measurement for
SN 1988ai from the discovery film:  R.A. = 0h06m21s.74, Decl. =
-41o28'59".9 (equinox 2000.0), which is near the northeastern edge
of the apparent irregular host galaxy, ESO 293-G34.  S. Tritton,
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, reports that the object also appears
on a U.K. Schmidt Telescope plate taken on 1989 Feb. 8, but it is
not present on other plates of this field (including the J or B

     M. F. Corcoran, Universities Space Research Association and
Goddard Space Flight Center, reports:  "A May 26 observation by the
Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Proportional Counter Array (RXTE PCA)
of the peculiar luminous star eta Car shows that the 2-10-keV x-ray
flux was approximately 2.7 x 10**-10 erg s**-1 cm**-2,
corresponding to an x-ray luminosity of about 6.5 x 10**34 erg/s
for a distance of 2100 pc.  This is the highest x-ray flux yet
observed for eta Car.  Monitoring observations with the RXTE PCA
show that the star has undergone four x-ray maxima since Mar. 2003.
Three of the x-ray peaks are separated by about 22 days, though the
shortest separation is only 12 days.  A straight-line fit to three
of the four recent peaks, and a linear extrapolation of the rise in
brightness since the most recent x-ray minimum on May 9, suggests
that the x-ray flux will reach a maximum near 3 x 10**-10 erg s**-1
cm**-2 near May 31.  Based on eta Car's 2020-day periodicity
(Damineli et al. 2000, Ap.J. 528, L101), this will probably be the
maximum brightness of the star during this current cycle, and we
expect that the x-ray eclipse ingress (Ishibashi et al. 1999, Ap.J.
524, 983) to begin shortly thereafter.  If so, and if the x-ray
flux declines at a similar rate to the 1997 eclipse ingress, then
the x-ray minimum will occur near 2003 July 24."

                      (C) Copyright 2003 CBAT
2003 May 28                    (8137)            Daniel W. E. Green

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