If scientist’s predictions are correct, the supernova set to appear in the night sky in 2022 would be one of the brightest starts seen from earth.
Scientists have never predicted a supernova explosion, but professor Larry Molnar from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan claims that the binary star system he has been studying will explode around 2022, give or take a year.
A binary system consists of two stars orbiting each other. Over time, the stars often begin to merge until they collide, ending both of their lives and creating a dazzling burst that can be seen from earth.
This type of explosion is dubbed a supernova, which can be caused either by two stars merging or by the death of a single, huge star. The flash of light can be detected millions of light years away on Earth but are incredibly difficult to predict.
Most supernovas are studied through records of past observations or when a telescope just so happened to be pointing in their direction when they appear. Molnar’s prediction, if proven true, will be the first ever predicted supernova and will offer scientists an incredible opportunity to study the explosion in real time.
The star will be visible in the constellation Cygnus and will add a star to the Northern Cross star pattern. So mark your calendar and be sure to watch for the supernova to appear in six years, give or take a year.
Top photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CC BY 2.0
Lauren Leising is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.