In the coming years, looking up at the stars might totally change. That’s because there’s an astronomical event coming, which will make a huge impact. Scientists predict that a star will explode into a red nova in 2022. They’ve been studying star system KIC 9832227, located 1,800 light-years away. If they’re right, and this star explodes, the red nova that it causes will be 10,000 times brighter than it is now, and thus visible with the naked eye. That’s right, suddenly the view of the stars will change, because the brightest thing in the sky will be this exploded star.
Scientists made these conclusions after studying KIC 9832227 for several years.
According to the Newsy, a red nova can form when one of the stars in a binary system starts to steal hydrogen from its partner. Once it gets enough, the hydrogen explodes outward, causing a nova. Daniel Van Noord, a research assistant on the project, described the binary star KIC 9832227 as, “like two peanuts sharing a single shell.”
As Van Noord studied the system, he found that the stars’ orbital period had changed. That’s unusual, and it showed him that there was something more going on with these stars than just the usual gravity. A phenomenon just like that happened before the star V1209 Scorpii suddenly exploded in 2008. Thus, the researchers think this might be a predictor that KIC 9832227 is getting ready to explode.
These predictions stand out, because no one has ever made one like this before.
Astronomer Larry Molnar admitted that their prediction is a one-in-a-million shot, because no one has ever predicted a star’s explosion before. But if they’re right, it could be huge, and we’ll all know.
Larry told National Geographic, “It will be a very dramatic change in the sky, as anyone can see it. You won’t need a telescope to tell me in 2023 whether I was wrong or I was right.”
But astronomers have been watching the stars for 15 years. What started as two unique bodies have clearly gotten closer. Larry says that the two stars orbit each other every 11 hours, and they seem to be in sync.
Their date for the explosion isn’t exact, but when it happens, it will be super awesome.
Larry said, “Explosions of this size occur about once a decade in our galaxy. This case is unusual in how close the star is, and hence how bright we will see it shine.”
The actual explosion prediction means it could happen sometime around 2022, give or take a year. We hope it does happen, because we’d love to be able to witness something like that. Because until we can fly through the galaxy, all we have of space is what we can see while gazing at the stars.