In 2022 we could see a nova in the sky

Astronomers predict a visible starburst with the naked eye

How splendid a red Nova can look proved in 2002 V838 Monocerotis. In 2022, such a starburst could become visible to the naked eye. © NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI)
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Himmelsschau predicts: In five years, a new, bright light could appear in the night sky. Because a double star is about to merge and could explode in 2022 in a nova, as US astronomers predict. If your prediction is correct, this would be the first time that such a starburst can be seen "with announcement", as it were, with the naked eye.

In August 2013, a previously inconspicuous star in the constellation Delfin suddenly shone brightly in the sky, its luminosity increased by a hundred-thousandfold. The cause of this celestial act was a nova: a white dwarf had sucked material from his partner star until it became unstable and exploded in a nova.

Two stars close to each other

An even more unusual kind of nova could be observed in 2022 - if the predictions of US astronomer Lawrence Molnar of Calvin College and his colleagues prove true. Because they have found evidence that a 1700 light years away from Earth double star in the constellation of swan is about to explode.

The double star KIC 9832227 consists of two stars, which are so closely encircled that their outer sheaths are already touching. "The two stars share a single atmosphere, like two peanuts in a common shell, " explains Molnar. For a circling in this tight dance the celestial bodies need only about eleven hours - already showed the first measurements.

Close up: The two stars of KIC 9832227 are already touching. © Larry Molnar / Calvin College

Narrowing orbit

In recent years, however, the orbit of the two stars has changed increasingly, as the researchers found in the evaluation of 15 years of observation data from different telescopes. The time interval in which the fainter of the two stars passes in front of his partner, is shortening more and more - and with increasing speed. display

The exciting thing about it: Exactly this behavior also showed the double star V1309 Scorpii, before it suddenly exploded in 2008. The two stars had come closer and closer together and finally melted together under enormous radiation. The result was a nova unusual in two respects: It was not a White Dwarf involved, as in typical Nova. In addition, this stellar explosion shines reddish instead of bluesy white.

Such red novae have rarely been observed and never after a concrete prediction of their explosion.

Red Nova in 2022

However, according to Molnar and his colleagues, all that speaks is that KIC 9832227 is heading directly towards a red nova. Based on the orbital period, they predict that the explosion will occur as early as 2022. "It's a one-to-a-million chance that you can predict such an explosion, " says Molnar. "Something like this has never been done before."

The Nova of KIC 9832227 would be 2022 as a new, bright point of light in the constellation Swan to see - with the naked eye. Larry Molnar / Calvin College

In the last two years, astronomers have once again analyzed the behavior of the double star in detail. They wanted to make sure that it does not go back to other processes, such as the gravitational influence of a third star. But so far, everything indicates that it is actually a contact double star, which is close to a merger, the researchers report.

As bright as the North Star

If there is a red Nova from KIC 9832227 in 2022, then this star explosion would be visible to the naked eye in the night sky. In the constellation Swan, a new bright spot of light would suddenly light up. The star, previously only visible with strong telescopes, could then radiate as brightly as the north star and the bright stars of the big car.

"This would be a significant event not only for science, but also because it captivates people on the street, " says co-author Matt Walhout of Calvin College. "If the prediction is correct, this would be the first time in history that parents can point to a dark spot in the sky and say, 'Look, kids, there's a star hiding there that will soon be lit up will! '(229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society)

(Calvin College, 09.01.2017 - NPO)