Brainy Quote of the Day

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Red Nova...

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology

It's only five years away...

In 2022, there will be a spectacular sky show. Two stars will merge into one, pushing out excess gas into an explosion known as a red nova. At magnitude 2, it will be as bright as Polaris in the sky, and just behind Sirius and Vega in brightness. The collision in the constellation of Cygnus will be visible for up to six months.

That’s pretty impressive. What’s more impressive: we’ve never been able to predict a nova before. But Lawrence Molnar, a professor of astronomy and physics at Calvin College, was able to find a pair of oddly behaving stars giving an indication of what might happen.

The objects, termed KIC 9832227, are currently contact binaries. Contact binary refers to two objects that are so close they are currently touching. The object was discovered by Kepler. The expected outcome is a merger between the two stars that will put on quite a show. Because both are low mass stars, the expected temperature is low, with Molnar terming it a “red nova.”

Astronomy: Two stars will merge in 2022 and explode into red fury, John Wenz

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