Light from the collision of two stars 1,800 light years away will reach Earth in 2022, with the addition of a new Red Nova star in the night sky, astronomers predicted on Friday, according to Vox. If their prediction – made at the Calvin College in Michigan – is proved correct, this will be the first predicted binary star system collision in history, according to the report.
Astronomer Larry Molnar said the collision between the two stars in the Cygnus constellation will be so massive that their brightness will increase by a factor of 10,000. People will be able to see it without the need for any visual aids, the report said. “We know these things merge, but we don’t really understand what [is the] mechanism that causes them to merge,” Molnar said.
The resulting Red Nova – so named for the colour of the light given off from the collision – will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky for six months, with the new star returning to normal levels of brightness in two to three years, The Daily Telegraph reported. The increasing orbital speeds of the system – KIC9832227 – was first noticed by Molnar and his team in 2013. The team noticed that the length of time taken by the two stars to orbit one another was steadily decreasing, leading them to speculate that the bodies were likely to merge.
Royal Astronomical Society scientist Robert Massey called the prediction “unprecedented”. “I think there will be a race among amateur astronomers, and members of the public to spot it first.” Molnar said the Calvin College team currently had over 33,000 images of the star system and would continue to observe and study their orbits.