BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — Scientists predict that two stars in the Milky Way will collide one day in the future, and the resulting explosion will be the brightest presence in the night sky for a while, according tomedia reports. Scientists aren’t sure exactly when it happened, but it’s expected to happen by the end of the century.
Pictured is the second brightest star in the night sky, the Canopus. Perhaps the V Sagittae looks so bright after the explosion.
V Sagittae is a pair of dim twin stars in Sagittarius, about 7,800 light-years from Earth. The binary system has been increasing regularly in brightness since 1890, indicating that the two stars are getting closer and one of them is capturing material from the other. Researchers at Louisiana State University have made a series of calculations predicting the years in which the two stars might collide, with the result that they could float for 16 years in 2083.
“For several weeks in a row, this will be the brightest star in the night sky. “It may even be brighter than Venus, ” said Juhan Frank, a professor at Louisiana State University and one of the authors of the study. But we can’t say for sure yet. “
V Sagittae is a dynamic binary system that contains a star that rotates around a white dwarf and constantly “pours” its own material into the white dwarf, which is extremely variable. Although it looks bleak from Earth, it is actually one of the brightest objects of its kind. Typically, white dwarfs in a binary system are generally heavier, but in this system, the average star is heavier.
The team analyzed observations of the star from 1890 to the present. Two separate databases showthat the object’s brightness increased tenfold during that time. The researchers fed this information into a mathematical model that predicted that the star would continue to export more and more material to the white dwarf, causing it to continue to move along a spiral path close to the white dwarf, eventually colliding with the white dwarf and releasing a lot of energy, resulting in a burst of bright light that will last for several weeks. Then, as the light fades, the star gradually transforms into another celestial body. Frank speculated that it might turn into a red dwarf, but it’s not certain yet. The researchers presented their findings at the 235th American Astronomical Society Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii.
But these results are mere predictions, provided that the observations of the past 120 years correctly reflect the evolution of the binary system and that there will be no unforeseen changes in the future. Predictions can go wrong, and often. A similar prediction of a supernova explosion visible from Earth in 2022 has been questioned by scientists.
But the researchers invited to review the calculations believe the prediction is entirely possible. “V Sagittae has historically been a unique dynamic binary system, because the stars in it are much heavier than the stars in other systems, and white dwarfs are much brighter than other white dwarfs. Larry Molnar, a professor at Calvin University in the United States, noted, “The Louisiana State University team is a step closer to uncovering the mystery of the binary system’s ever-brightening. And it leads to the only conclusion that matches all known information (the system will have a major outbreak by the end of the century). “
Michael Shara, director of the American Museum of Natural History and a professor of astrophysics, agrees that the study is reasonable. However, he thinks the margin of error proposed in the study, which is 16 years of fluctuations around the forecast year, may be slightly narrower, and that the model may overlook some of the potential implications. For example, as the brightness of a white dwarf in the system increases, this may in turn affect the speed at which it devours the material of another star. But he said: “The ability to predict such an astronomical event decades in advance fully embodies the power of simple, elegant physics. “
The louisiana state university team believes that as the media attention continues to rise, astronomers may question their work. But if the prediction passes the test, it is not known how many people will live to this time and witness the incident. (Leaf)