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You'll Be Able To Watch A Star Explode In 2022

This could be epic 😁

09/01/2017 11:28 GMT | Updated 10/01/2017 09:11 GMT

In just five years’ time, two stars in a distant galaxy will collide, merge and then explode, and we’ll be able to watch the whole thing unfold. 

That’s the extraordinary prediction of astronomer Larry Molnar, who has been studying the suns, known as KIC 9832227, since 2013.

Never before has an astronomer accurately predicted a star’s explosion, but Molnar claims that all the data points to a spectacular collision in 2022.

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

But he added that the prediction is “progressing from theory to reality” as the two stars, which orbit each other, move closer and closer together.

If the two stars do collide, they will merge and explode, boosting their brightness more than 10,000 times.

The explosion will be so dramatic that the new star will be visible from Earth without the aid of a telescope, albeit only temporarily. 

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The explosion will be visible in the Cygnus constellation as a new star in the Northern Cross pattern.

KIC 9832227 is an eclipsing binary star system, meaning we can see one of the stars star passing the other from Earth. Molnar first started investigating it in 2013, but his interest was piqued when he realised it was behaving in a similar way to another star that had exploded unexpectedly in 2008. 

Over the last two years, Molnar and his team have been observing the systems’ behaviour, and their findings have lent weight to the explosion hypothesis.

“Bottom line is we really think our merging star hypothesis should be taken seriously right now and we should be using the next few years to study this intensely so that if it does blow up we will know what led to that explosion,” he told EarthSky. 

Günay Mutlu via Getty Images

While it’s difficult to predict when a star will explode, celestial explosions are hardly rare. 

Scientists believe that our own solar system may have formed from the explosion of a star at the end of its life cycle.

Research published in November suggests a low-mass supernova was so powerful it triggered a cloud of gas and dust to collapse, leading to the creation of the Sun and its planets.

“This is the forensic evidence we need to help us explain how the solar system was formed,” said Yong-Zhong Qian, astronomy professor at the University of Minnesota. “It points to a low-mass supernova as the trigger.”

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