The nebula ejected in the 1934 outburst of the classical nova DQ Her is remarkable for its unprecedentedly low temperature of Te 500 K as measured by Williams et al. (1978). In this paper, IUE observations are combined with Steward optical spectra. It is confirmed that the gas is quite cold. It is further shown that the gas is ionized by the radiation field of the central object. X-ray, ultraviolet, optical and infrared observations of the underlying binary are combined with the extreme-ultraviolet continuum deduced from the level of ionization of the nebula to obtain a composite energy distribution for the central object. This energy distribution bears no resemblance to that predicted by theoretical models of accretion disks. Photoionization models of the nebula using the deduced continuum, as well as theoretical accretion disk continua, are presented to show that the low electron temperature is the result of the very high metal abundances which characterize nova shells. Infrared fine-structure lines are efficient coolants, and low temperatures are achieved for a wide variety of radiation fields. The implications of these results for nebulae surrounding other old novae are discussed.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Ferland, Gary J.; Williams, R. E.; Lambert, D. L.; Shields, G. A.; Slovak, M.; Gondhalekar, P. M.; and Truran, J. W., "IUE Observations of DQ Herculis and its Nebula, and the Nature of the Cold Nova Shells" (1984). Physics and Astronomy Faculty Publications. 179.