Mankind may soon get to see an epic event deep in space live as it unfolds, something we've never been able to do before.
Scientists say that for the first time ever they’ll be able to predict and therefore observe an event that will happen in just the next few years: the collision of two stars into a “red nova” in 2022.
In reality, this collision already happened just a couple hundred years after Biblical times, as the stars are located about 1,800 light years away, but the light from the event is hurtling our way and we’re going to get to see it unfold in just a few years, according to Astronomer Larry Molnar of Calvin College, who made the prediction during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Texas, according to media reports.
It’s going to be quite the astronomical sight. The two huge stars are currently invisible to the naked eye, but when they smash into each other, they will increase in brightness by a factor of 10,000, allowing use to see them with unaided eyes. It will be one of the brightest objects in the entire sky.
The brightness will increase gradually, slowly getting brighter as the months pass in the constellation Cygnus.
“It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion,” Molnar said in a statement. “It’s never been done before.”
“[A student] looked at how the color of the star correlated with brightness and determined it was definitely a binary,” said Molnar. “In fact, he discovered it was actually a contact binary, in which the two stars share a common atmosphere, like two peanuts sharing a single shell.
“From there Dan determined a precise orbital period from Kinemuchi’s Kepler satellite data (just under 11 hours) and was surprised to discover that the period was slightly less than that shown by earlier data” Molnar continued.