Astronomers (for the first time ever) predict a collision between two stars

Jan 10, 2017


Two stars orbiting each other will collide, creating a “Red Nova” visible to the naked eye in 2022, say US astronomers.

Professor Larry Molnar’s prediction is the first of its kind.

“It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion,” Molnar said. “It’s never been done before.”

And here’s the twist…

If Prof Molnar’s predication is correct, the collision actually occurred more than a thousand years ago.

“The star is around 1800 light years. Hence if we are right about the upcoming outburst, it actually occurred 1795 years ago, and the light from the outburst has been travelling toward us ever since,” he 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 and unique in that it is the first time anyone has predicted an explosion in advance.”

Calvin College’s Dr Matt Walhout says the event will be our first chance to see the birth of a star:

“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,” he said.

The collision will be seen as part of the Cygnus constellation, which in the Southern Hemisphere can be seen during winter, low on the northern horizon.

For around six months, the collision will create one of the brightest stars in the sky before gradually dimming, returning to its normal brightness after around two to three years.

Professor Molnar and his team are currently working on a film about the event -- scheduled for release in 2023.