Astronomers expect a “new star” to appear in the night sky sometime between now and September, and it promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime celestial sight, they say NASA.

The expected brightening event, known as a novawill occur in the constellation Corona Borealis, or Northern Crown of the Milky Way, located between the constellations Boutes and Hercules.

While a supernova is the explosive death of a massive star, a nova refers to the sudden, brief explosion of a collapsed star known as a white dwarf.

T Coronae Borealis, also known as the “Blaze Star”, is a binary star system in the Corona Borealis that includes a dead white dwarf and an aging red giant star. Red giants form when stars exhaust their supply of hydrogen for nuclear fusion and begin to die. In about 5 to 6 billion years, our sun will become a red giant, swelling and expanding as it releases layers of material and likely vaporizes the solar system’s inner planets, although Earth’s fate remains unclear NASA.

Approximately every 79 years, T Coronae Borealis experiences an explosive event.

The stars in the orbiting pair are close enough together that they interact violently with each other. The red giant becomes increasingly unstable over time as it heats up and sheds its outer layers, which end up as matter on the white dwarf star.

The exchange of matter causes the white dwarf’s atmosphere to gradually warm up until a “runaway thermonuclear reaction” occurs, resulting in a nova, according to the space agency, as seen in the animation below.

Keep an eye on the changing sky

T Coronae Borealis last experienced an explosive eruption in 1946, and astronomers are once again keeping an eye on the star system.

“Most novae happen unexpectedly and without warning,” William J. Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office, said in an email. “However, T Coronae Borealis is one of ten recurring novae in the galaxy. We know from the last flare in 1946 that the star dims for just over a year before rapidly increasing in brightness. T Coronae Borealis began dimming in March last year, so some researchers expect it to go nova between now and September. But the uncertainty about when this will happen is several months away – with what we know now we can’t do better.”

The star system, located 3,000 light-years from Earth and normally too dim to be seen with the naked eye, is expected to reach a brightness similar to Polaris or the North Star.

Once the nova reaches its peak in brightness, it will appear as if a new star has appeared – one that will be visible with binoculars for a few days without equipment and just over a week before dimming and for about another disappeared from view for 80 years.

The nova will appear in a small arc between the constellations Bootes and Hercules and will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

Astronomers will observe the nova with the Hubble Space Telescope and study the celestial event using X-rays and ultraviolet light with the space-based Neil Gehrel’s Swift Observatory.

“Studying recurring novae like T Coronae Borealis helps us understand mass transfer between stars in these systems and gain insight into the thermonuclear runaway that occurs on the white dwarf surface when the star goes nova,” Cooke said .

The NASAUniverse The account on X, formerly known as Twitter, will provide updates about the outbreak and its occurrence.

Cooke recalled that the last nova he observed – Nova Cygni in 1975 – was similar in brightness to that expected from T Coronae Borealis. Nova Cygni is not expected to experience another explosion again.

“I was a teenage astronomy geek about to start college and I was out on the night of August 29,” Cooke said. “As I looked up into the sky, I noticed that the constellation of the Swan was confused; There was a star that wasn’t supposed to be there. After enduring a few comments from friends who thought I was crazy, I had them take a look and we realized we were dealing with a Nova! It was a very unforgettable experience and confirmed my choice of career in astronomy. I always joked that a star had to explode for me to suffer in physics studies.”

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