A super-rare starburst will be visible from Earth this month

Is a star dead?

Keep your eyes skyward, stargazers: NASA predicts that a highly anticipated “once-in-a-lifetime” stellar explosion — or nova — will be visible to the naked eye sometime this summer. In a recent press release.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have this front-row seat,” said Dr. Rebecca Hounsell, assistant research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Called De Coronae Borealis, or “Blaze Star,” the celestial event is located 3,000 light-years away and consists of a white dwarf, the “Earth-sized” remnant of a dead star. The mass of the starburst, meanwhile, is similar to that of the Sun.


“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that creates a lot of new astronomers, giving young people a cosmic event where they can observe for themselves, ask their own questions and collect their own data,” Dr Rebecca said. Hounsell is a nova specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA/Conceptual Imaging Laboratory/Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA described the combination as “an old red giant slowly stripped of hydrogen by the relentless gravitational pull of its hungry neighbor.”

When enough hydrogen from a red giant accumulates on the surface of a white dwarf, it triggers a massive thermonuclear explosion that blasts the accumulated material into space in a blinding flash. The intergalactic event should not be confused with a supernova, a similar cosmic flare that destroys some dying stars — rather than keeping them intact like a nova — and Billions of times brighter than Nova.

For Blaze Star, that event repeats itself every 80 years on average.

This event is notable for being so close to Earth. “There are some persistent novae with very short cycles, but in general, we don’t often see repeated explosions in human lifetimes, rarely one so close to our own system,” Hounsell said.

Unfortunately, the exact date for the interstellar fireworks is still unknown, however, the Death Star is said to be visible sometime this month. NASA estimates that the “brief” event will be visible to the naked eye for about a week.

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A nova animation.
We can see this phenomenon for a week. NASA/Conceptual Imaging Laboratory/Goddard Space Flight Center

Fortunately, amateur astronomers can improve their chances of seeing a fleeting light show by following several tips.

First, they must first look towards the Northern Crown, a parabolic constellation located west of the Hercules constellation. Fox News reports.

They can trace a straight line from the two brightest stars in the Northern Hemisphere—Arctrus and Vega—that will take them to the constellation Hercules and the Corona Borealis, where the Blaze of Glory is most visible. A new star appears in the sky.

Unfortunately, “continuing novae are unpredictable,” says NASA astrophysicist Koji Mukai, adding that just when scientists think they’ve nailed down the pattern, it “completely deviates from it.”

“Let’s see how D CRP (scientific name for ‘blaze star’) behaves,” he added.

Either way, Hounsell hopes the trail-blazing event will “fuel the next generation of scientists.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that creates a lot of new astronomers, giving young people a cosmic event where they can observe for themselves, ask their own questions and collect their own data,” he declared.

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