Astronomical Marvel: NASA Predicts ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Cosmic Explosion to Illuminate Night Sky in Spectacular Display

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A rare cosmic explosion that NASA describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity” is expected to take place by September, the space agency has said.

T Coronae Borealis: Star system explosion could be seen from Earth

The “nova” explosion will be visible to the naked eye despite occurring 3,000 lightyears away from Earth.

It will occur when the star system T Coronae Borealis (T CrB) explodes after a thermonuclear reaction between the system’s white dwarf — which is the core of a dead star — and its red giant star.

Is T CrB About to Blow its Top? - Sky & Telescope - Sky & Telescope

“As the red giant becomes unstable from its increasing temperature and pressure and begins ejecting its outer layers, the white dwarf collects that matter onto its surface,” NASA says on its website.

“The shallow dense atmosphere of the white dwarf eventually heats enough to cause a runaway thermonuclear reaction – which produces the nova we see from Earth,” it adds.

T Coronae Borealis nova event - BBC Sky at Night Magazine

“These novae are basically hydrogen bombs,” Bradley Schaefer, an astrophysicist at Louisiana State University, told The New York Times.

What to watch for

Rare explosion in space is set to create a new star in the night sky that  will be visible for just one week... here is how YOU can see it | Daily

Those hoping to see the nova display should look for the constellation Corona Borealis, or “Northern Crown,” a small arc near the Bootes and Hercules constellations, NASA says.

“This is where the outburst will appear as a ‘new’ bright star,” it adds.

Once-in-a-lifetime event: A dead star will soon offer skywatchers a stellar  show - Times of India

When it takes place, the star system is set to have a similar brightness to that of the North Star, and, once it peaks, “it should be visible to the unaided eye for several days and just over a week with binoculars,” per the agency.

It will then dim and may not be visible for another 80 years, NASA says, adding that the system last exploded in 1946.

“You’re going to notice a new star in the sky,” Bill Cooke from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told The New York Times.

“How often can people say that they’ve seen a star explode?” he added.


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