‘Once-in-a-lifetime event’: Rare chance to see explosion on dwarf star 3,000 light-years away | Astronomy

In what is being called a “once-in-a-lifetime event,” light from a thermonuclear explosion on a star has been traveling toward Earth for thousands of years and will be here any day.

The star T Coronae Borealis (also known as T Cor Bor, T CrB, and Blaze Star) will be as bright as the North Star (for those in the Northern Hemisphere).

Dr Laura Driessen, from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, said the star Blaze would be as bright as Orion’s right foot for those in the southern hemisphere.

The new repeating star T CrB becomes visible about every 80 years after a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf about 3,000 light-years away.

The dwarf absorbs hydrogen from the neighboring red giant, causing pressure and heat to build up and eventually lead to an explosion.

This star is known as a nova (meaning new), and is expected to become visible any time between now and September.

There is a dark spot in the Corona Borealis region, and astronomers and non-astronomers everywhere are watching this spot, as the “new” star will appear, and it will remain visible to the naked eye for about a week.

NASA described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

The two stars are close enough that their gravitational force causes the white dwarf to suck in material, Driessen said.

“It’s a binary system, and every time there’s an explosion, so it’s a new star,” she said.

“When we think of a new star we often think of a supernova, which is when a star explodes at the end of its life… and it can’t come back. But a new star has a smaller supernova, based on this accretion, this gathering of material.”

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The first recorded sighting of the Fire Star was in 1217, when the abbot of Auersperg in Germany saw “a faint star that shone for a time with great light,” NASA says.

It was last seen in 1946.

The star is always changing, getting brighter and dimmer, Driessen said. But about 10 years before the explosion, it starts to get a little brighter, before fading again in the months leading up to the explosion.

“It’s not going to be really precise, it’s about the buildup of material. So it’s not about a specific number, but we have this early warning,” she said.

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Although this amazing phenomenon has been observed before, Driessen said this is the first time it will be studied using modern technology.

“That’s why it’s so exciting. This will be the first time we’ve had the information we have access to now, because we have all these telescopes that we didn’t have 80 years ago,” she said.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Array in New Mexico are some of the instruments that will track Blaze.

The typical new star event was far away, said Dr. Elizabeth Hayes, a Fermi project scientist who is also head of NASA’s Particle Astrophysics Laboratory.

“This mission will be very close, with many eyes on it, studying different wavelengths, and hopefully that will give us the data we need to start discovering the specific structure and processes involved,” she said.

“We can’t wait to get the full picture of what’s happening.”

NASA has Corona Borealis Map To help people decide where to look, Dreesen said programs like Stellarium are also helpful. There are several free apps that show maps of the night sky.

Driessen said people should find the darkest area they can, as far away from a city or town as possible, and take binoculars with them to get a better view.

“Let your eyes adjust to the dark,” she said. “It’s a good idea to have a red flashlight. Put a little cellophane over it so it doesn’t ruin your night vision. And don’t look at your phone.”

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