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Critical comments on publications by S. Hoffmann and N. Vogt on historical novae/supernovae and their candidates

, Dagmar L. Neuhäuser
Published: 5 May 2021
 by  Wiley
Astronomische Nachrichten ; doi:10.1002/asna.202113872

Abstract: We critically discuss recent articles by S. Hoffmann and N. Vogt on historical novae and supernovae (SNe) as well as their list of “24 most promising events” “with rather high probability to be a nova” (Hoffmann et al., AN, 2020, 341, 79 (P3)). Their alleged positional accuracy of previously suggested historical nova/SN records is based on inhomogeneous datasets (Vogt et al.), but then used for the nova search in Hoffmann et al., AN, 2020, 341, 79 (P3). Their claim that previously only “point coordinates” for nova/SN candidates were published, is fabricated. Their estimate of expected nova detection rates is off by a factor of 10 due to mis‐calculation. They accept counterparts down to 4–7 mag at peak, which is against the consensus for the typical limit of naked‐eye discovery. When they discuss previously suggested identifications of historical novae, which they all doubt, they do not present new facts (Hoffmann, MNRAS, 2019, 490, 4194 (P2)). Their catalog of “24 most promising events” for novae (Hoffmann et al., AN, 2020, 341, 79 (P3)) neglects important recent literature (e.g. Pankenier et al., Archeoastronomy in East Asia, New York, Cambria, 2008 and Stephenson and Green, JHA, 2009, 40, 31), the claimed methods are not followed, etc. At least half of their short‐list candidates were and are to be considered comets. For many of the others, duration of more than one night and/or a precise position is missing and/or the sources were treated mistakenly. Two “highlights,” a fabricated SN AD 667–8 and a presumable recurrent nova in AD 891, are already rejected in detail in Neuhäuser et al., MNRAS, 2021a, 501, L1—in both cases, all evidence speaks in favor of comets. There remains only one reliable case, where close to one (possible) historically reported position, a nova shell was already found (AD 1437, Shara et al., Nature, 2017b, 548, 558). Since the proposed positional search areas are not justified due to unfounded textual interpretations (e.g. in fact comets), misunderstandings of historical Chinese astronomy (e.g. incorrect asterism), follow‐up observations cannot be recommended.
Keywords: comets / novae / supernovae

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