Context. Another outburst of the recurrent M 31 nova M31N 2008-12a was announced in late November 2013. Optical data suggest an unprecedentedly short recurrence time of approximately one year. Aims. In this Letter we address the X-ray properties of M31N 2008-12a. Methods. We requested Swift monitoring observations shortly after the optical discovery. We estimated source count rates and extracted X-ray spectra from the resulting data. The corresponding ultraviolet (UV) data were also analysed. Results. The nova M31N 2008-12a was clearly detected as a bright supersoft X-ray source (SSS) only six days after the well-constrained optical discovery. It displayed a short SSS phase of two weeks' duration and an exceptionally hot X-ray spectrum with an effective black-body temperature of ~97 eV. During the SSS phase the X-ray light curve displayed significant variability that might have been accompanied by spectral variations. The very early X-ray variability was found to be anti-correlated with simultaneous variations in the UV flux. Conclusions. The X-ray properties of M31N 2008-12a coherently point towards a high-mass white dwarf in the nova system. This object might be a promising Type Ia supernova progenitor. We rediscovered additional X-ray detections of M31N 2008-12a that are consistent with our data and increase the number of known nova outbursts to seven. This nova is an exceptional object that merits further attention in the future.
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