Ever since the dawn of time, humans have been fascinated about the heavens and what is beyond our planet. Over the centuries, we created various gadgets and tools to help us look beyond the solar system and see the stars and galaxies whose lights we only see as little twinkles on the sky.
But something exciting is about to happen in 2022 – and astronomers believe it will be visible to the naked eye from Earth!
Astronomers studying a binary star system called KIC 9832227 discovered that the twin stars appeared to share the same atmosphere in what looks like “two peanuts sharing a single shell” – and that’s similar to V1309 Scorpii. Amazingly, the twin stars suddenly exploded while scientists were observing them back in 2008, leading to the discovery of what really causes red nova to appear in the sky.
Calculating the twin stars’ orbital period KIC 9832227, astronomers hypothesized that the star system is so similar with the red nova V1309 Scorpii that they think something similar will happen soon! Being so close that they are virtually ‘touching’, the twin stars would eventually merge in an explosion that would create the red nova. In place of the twin stars, a new and larger star will be born.
“It will be a very dramatic change in the sky, as anyone can see it,” said astronomer Lary Molnar who leads his students from Calvin College in Michigan, USA in studying the binary system. “You won’t need a telescope to tell me in 2022 whether I was wrong or I was right.”
Right now, however, Molnar is unsure when exactly the stars will explode and become a red nova but calculates the event to happen sometime in 2022.
Molnar said, “It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion. It’s never been done before.”
For now, we could only hope that they will be able to get a date released soon so that we could watch the super explosion happen right before our eyes!
“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,” says Matt Walhout, the dean for research and scholarship at Calvin College.
He added, “[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.’”
Still, even if the astronomers say the explosion will be visible to the naked from Earth, we would only be seeing the light from the red nova and not the dramatic explosion itself. But considering that the event will happen in 5 years, there’s still plenty of time for us to invest in a small telescope, right?