Our galaxy is home to approximately 100 billion stars. I wouldn’t recommend fact-checking that for yourself, because you may be counting for some time. Thankfully, they’re all pretty stable, and astronomers haven’t seen any erratic activity from our galaxy’s stars thus far.
This may be about to change, however. Every year, around 100 million stars are born. After researching stars within our galaxy, astronomy professor Larry Molner believes that he has found evidence to suggest that our sky may be gaining a new star that could change our constellation system.
Molner believes that we will be able to witness the birth of this star from Earth without the use of a telescope. This new star will also become part of our constellation system. Unfortunately, the birth of this super-star does also involve two stars colliding into each other which sounds pretty dangerous to me.
Get the low down on this new star on the next page. An astronomer has predicted that a new star will be born, after analysing a fluctuation in a star’s brightness. Professor Larry Molnar from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been studying this particular star since 2013, and has evidence to suggest that the star is set to collide with another star in its orbit. This would then create a new “boom star” in our galaxy, which will be visible from Earth.
The star in question, known as KIC 9832227, was brought to Molnar’s attention after he attended an astronomy conference and visited a presentation hosted by fellow astronomer Karen Kinemuchi. Her presentation looked into KIC 9832227, and the fluctuation of the star’s brightness. The study couldn’t find a firm conclusion as to whether the star’s brightness was pulsing or binary, so Molnar took it upon himself to look into it.
Student Daniel Van Noord was also present at the conference, and found that the brightness of the star was a binary reaction; Molnar stated that: “He [Van Noord] looked at how the color of the star correlated with brightness and determined it was definitely a binary. In fact, he discovered it was actually a contact binary, in which the two stars share a common atmosphere, like two peanuts sharing a single shell.”
After three years studying the star, Molnar’s hypothesis is “progressing from theory to reality” as the two stars, which orbit each other, are moving towards each other. The new star is believed to appear in the constellation Cygnus, adding to the Northern Cross star pattern.
These two stars, which are orbiting each other, will eventually collide. Astronomers have predicted that on impact, the two stars will get 100,000 times brighter. Molnar has predicted that the collision will occur in 2022, so you’ve got a few years to prepare yourself.
Molnar believes that this kind of prediction hasn’t been made before: “It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion.” Matt Walhout, chair of Calvin’s physics and astronomy department, is also incredibly excited about Molnar’s discovery: “The project is significant not only because of the scientific results, but also because it is likely to capture the imagination of people on the street.”
Walhout continued, stating that: “If the prediction is correct, then for the first time in history, parents will be able to point to a dark spot in the sky and say, ‘Watch, kids, there’s a star hiding in there, but soon it’s going to light up'”. It sounds like 2022 is going to be a brighter year than most.