An extremely rare star explosion will be visible from Earth this month

A dead star?

Keep your eyes on the skies, stargazers: NASA has predicted that a long-awaited “once-in-a-lifetime” star explosion — or nova — will be visible to the naked eye sometime this summer. According to a recent press release.

“It’s very exciting to have that front-row seat,” said Dr. Rebecca Hounsel, an associate research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Dubbed T Coronae Borealis or “Blaze Star,” the celestial event is located 3,000 light-years away and consists of a white dwarf, the remains of a dead “Earth-sized” star. Meanwhile, the mass of the starburst is similar to the mass of the Sun.


“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that will create a lot of new astronomers, and give young people a cosmic event that they can observe for themselves, ask their own questions, and collect their own data,” Dr Rebecca said. Hounsel, a nova specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA/Conceptual Image Laboratory/Goddard Space Flight Center

Also in the mix is ​​“an ancient red giant that is slowly being stripped of hydrogen by the constant gravitational pull of its hungry neighbor,” NASA described.

When enough hydrogen from the red giant accumulates on the surface of the white dwarf, it triggers a massive thermonuclear explosion that propels the accreted material into space in a dazzling flash. The intergalactic phenomenon should not be confused with a supernova, a similar cosmic burn-up that destroys some dying stars — rather than keeping them intact like a nova — and it is. Often billions of times brighter than a nova.

In the case of a flare star, this event appears to occur, on average, every 80 years, and can be repeated for hundreds of thousands of years.

This event is of particular importance due to its relative proximity to Earth. “There are a few recurring novae with very short cycles, but typically, we don’t see a recurring explosion in a human lifetime, and it’s relatively rare and relatively close to our system,” Hounsel said.

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Unfortunately, the exact date for the interstellar fireworks display is not yet known, however, it is said that this potential Death Star will be visible sometime this month. NASA estimates that the “brief” phenomenon will be visible to the naked eye for about a week.


Nova animation.
The event can be visible to us for a week. NASA/Conceptual Image Laboratory/Goddard Space Flight Center

Fortunately, amateur astronomers can improve their chances of catching a glimpse of the passing light show by following several tips.

First, they should initially look toward the Northern Crown, a parabolic-shaped constellation located west of the constellation Hercules, Fox News reports.

They can then trace a straight line from the two brightest stars in the northern hemisphere – Arcturus and Vega – which will lead them to the constellation Hercules and Corona Borealis, where the blaze of glory will be most visible. It will appear as if a new star has appeared in the sky.

Unfortunately, “recurring novae are unpredictable,” according to NASA astrophysicist Koji Mukai, adding that when scientists think they have identified their pattern, they can “completely deviate from it.”

“We will see how T CrB (the scientific name for ‘Blaze Star’) behaves,” he added.

Either way, Hounsel believes this groundbreaking event will “nourish the next generation of scientists.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that will create a lot of new astronomers, and give young people a cosmic event that they can observe for themselves, ask their own questions, and collect their own data,” she announced.

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