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Extremely rare 'stellar explosion' will be visible to naked eye, will last for a week

{p}(NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center){br}{/p}

(NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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As if the recent total solar eclipse wasn't enough, stargazers will now have another massive space event to look forward to.

According to astronomers, the stars of T Coronae Borealis (T CrB), which is a binary system roughly 3,000 light years away, will be visible during an extremely rare cosmic event later in 2024, according to Space.

A rare nova explosion is expected to be visible for an entire week. NASA currently says that the event could happen anytime between now and September. Astronomers looking into the event said they will release a more "precise timing" once they've accurately figure out when it will happen.

It's believed that nova explosions, such as the one that's expected to happen to T CrB later this year, only happen about once a century. For a large majority of people, this will make it a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Scientists say that these events happen whenever a collapsed white dwarf star and a red giant star come too close together. In turn, this causes the temperature of the red giant's surface to raise dramatically. For example, temperatures usually sit around 4,000 to 5,800 degrees Fahrenheit, but during this kind of event, those temperatures will raise to around 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Earth.

Obviously, this is a massive increase. It causes the red giant to "expel the outer layers onto the white dwarf." Once this happens, it creates a massive explosion that's roughly equivalent to a nuclear bomb going off. It fully unleashes a burst of energy that's about 100,000 times greater than the annual output from our Sun.

Now, after the explosion happens, the star will enter a cool down period. It eventually will cool down to its pre-explosion temperature and the cycle will slowly begin again. This instance is also unique in the sense that this doesn't destroy the star like a supernova would. T CrB and the two stars within the system, have erupted for years. The most notable of its eruptions date back to 1946 and 1866, but there are some accounts that say it has been visible during its nova phase for centuries.

Another aspect that makes this a unique event is the fact that the cycle is complete in just one week. The peak of the event will be so bright that it will be visible from the naked eye all the way here on Earth for at least a couple days. It will only be visible for over a week when using binoculars or a telescope.

Since the last time this explosion happened was in 1946, it's believed that it works on a roughly 79 year interval. Following that logic, the next time this event will happen is in 2103.

To best see the explosion, it's recommended that viewers look for it within the Corona Borealis constellation, or the Northern Crown, which is found near Bootes and Hercules, according to NASA.

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