‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ explosion expected to happen over summer, NASA says

A rare light eruption from a dead star could possibly be visible this summer on Earth, scientists say.

A rare light eruption from a dead star could possibly be visible this summer on Earth, scientists say.

It could happen between now and September, according to CBS News. Scientists believe that a nova in the Corona Borealis, or Northern Crown, of the Milky Way will create a powerful flash in space that people on Earth can see, NASA said.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that will create a lot of new astronomers out there, giving young people a cosmic event they can observe for themselves, ask their own questions, and collect their own data,” said Dr. Rebekah Hounsell, an assistant research scientist specializing in nova events at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’ll fuel the next generation of scientists.”

A nova is a “brief explosion from a collapsed star known as a white dwarf,” according to CNN. That means the dwarf star will continue to exist and release material in a cycle over and over again for thousands of years.

T Coronae Borealis, known as the “Blaze Star” or called “T CrB” by astronomers, is a system that is binary in the Northern Crown, which is about 3,000 light-years away from Earth. It is comprised of a white dwarf and a red giant that has been stripped of hydrogen, NASA said.

When hydrogen from the red giant accretes on the white dwarf, it causes buildup of both heat and pressure. That heat and pressure creates a thermonuclear explosion that can happen every 80 years, NASA said.

“There are a few recurrent novae with very short cycles, but typically, we don’t often see a repeated outburst in a human lifetime, and rarely one so relatively close to our own system,” Hounsell said. “It’s incredibly exciting to have this front-row seat.”

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