A group of astronomers have predicted our night sky will soon be graced by a new star, thanks to a huge explosive supernova.
The new star is predicted to form in 2022 when two stars in orbit crash together to create a ‘boom star’.
Professor Larry Molnar, the astronomer behind the hypothesis believes this new boom star, created by the two old stars merging, will be one of the brightest stars visible in our sky.
The stars, which share the same KIC 9832227 binary system, will be ten thousand times brighter after the night sky collision. Supernovas and red novas, such as this one, can be seen from Earth even though they occur millions of light years away.
These astrological events are notoriously unpredictable, but Professor Molnar claims to have predicted this particular supernova in advance, for the first time in history.
The new ‘boom star’ will be visible as part of the constellation Cygnus, located about 1800 light-years away. Professor Molnar predicts telescopes will be able to locate the star within the recognisable Northern Cross stellar pattern.
The astronomers have been able to predict the supernova from the Calvin observatory, using Kinemuchi’s Kepler satellite data to map the two stars’ orbits.
Dean of Research at Calvin College, Matt Walhout said:
If Larry’s prediction is correct, his project will demonstrate for the first time that astronomers can catch certain binary stars in the act of dying, and that they can track the last few years of a stellar death spiral up to the point of final, dramatic explosion.
The project is significant not only because of the scientific results, but also because it is likely to capture the imagination of people on the street.
If the prediction is correct, then for the first time in history, parents will be able to point to a dark spot in the sky and say, ‘Watch, kids, there’s a star hiding in there, but soon it’s going to light up’.
After studying the star, the astronomers noticed similarities between its behaviour and that of another star, V1309 Scorpii, that unexpectedly exploded in 2008.
At least we’ll all know where to look to watch this spectacular explosion in five years time.