Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Korean astronomers saw a distant explosion 600 years ago — and we just found the stars that caused it

Korean astronomers saw a distant explosion 600 years ago — and we just found the stars that caused it:

In March of 1437, Korean astronomers in Seoul saw what they thought was a new, bright star appear in the night sky. Now, nearly 600 years later, astronomers have figured out what those stargazers actually saw: a thermonuclear explosion caused by the interaction of two distant stars. The new research pinpoints the location of those two stars in the sky, solving a mystery that’s plagued astronomers for decades and providing clues about what happens to pairs of stars centuries after they explode.

The event that the Korean astronomers saw lasted 14 days, leading modern astronomers to suspect it was something known as a classical nova. This is a type of explosion caused by an ordinary star similar to our Sun and a white dwarf — a small,...

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