A pair of stars is likely to collide and explode by 2022, according to the predictions made by scientists from the Calvin College, Michigan. They say that the event will be so big and bright that there won’t be need for a telescope to see it.

The two stars are in the Cygnus constellation, and they have been monitored by Professor Larry Molnar and his team since 2013. They say that the stars, which are jointly called KIC 9832227, orbit around each other. They will eventually merge and explode. If the scientists are right, it will be the first time a star collision is predicted.

A red nova explosion. Image Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute

“It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion. It’s never been done before.” Said Professor Molnar, according to NPR. “Bottom line is we think our emerging 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 added

The star explosion will be visible to the naked eye

Scientists from the Calvin College, Michigan, are anticipating one of the biggest astronomical events for 2022: two stars colliding in the night sky, an explosion so bright that it could be seen from earth with the naked eye. If the predictions happen to be correct, it will be an enormous achievement with no precedents.

These stars, that comprise a system called ‘KIC 983222’, are located in the Cygnus constellation. If they collide, the star’s brightness will increase by 10,000-fold becoming the shiniest thing in the night sky which is why we wouldn’t need to use a telescope or a binocular to see it. Scientists say it would be as luminous as the North Star, Polaris, which is at the moment the brightest one among all the constellations of the Ursa Minor.

This explosion means the end of these stars, but a new star will be born out of this in the Northern Cross formation, according to Larry Molnar.

Molnar clarified that this would be the first time an event like that is predicted, though he believes it will occur in 2022, he can’t tell an exact date for the phenomenon.

But how could scientist predict the fate of the ‘KIC 983222’ system?

The team integrated by Professor Molnar, several college students with the help of Karen Kinemuchi from Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico and Henry Kabul from the University of Wyoming, has been observing the system for several years.

They noticed that the two stars shared an atmosphere, something like “two peanuts sharing a shell”. Their orbit is decreasing. And after several calculations, they believed that it would have the same fate as the‘V1309 Scorpii’ star, which exploded in 2008, unexpectedly.

They have several hypotheses now regarding what could be causing the change in the orbital period, which makes them more confident about the predictions they made.

Todd Hillwig, an astronomer at Valparaiso University, said that though he was not involved in the predictions, there is room to be positive about it. He said that based on the data used the explosion is a possible outcome.

He expressed that even when the scientific community has discovered quite a lot about the physics of stars, they call tell why these stars merge and explode. Scientists up until now have only seen this kind of events after the fact.

Source: Technology Inquirer