Any night now, a

Look up! A once-in-a-lifetime explosion is about to create a 'new' star in the sky

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2024-07-09 05:00:05

Any night now, a "new star" or nova will appear in the night sky. While it won't set the sky ablaze, it's a special opportunity to see a rare event that's usually difficult to predict in advance.

The star in question is T Coronae Borealis (T CrB, pronounced "T Cor Bor"). It lies in the constellation of the northern crown, prominent in the Northern Hemisphere but also visible in the northern sky from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand over the next few months.

Most of the time T CrB, which is 3000 light years away, is much too faint to be seen. But once every 80 years or so, it brightly erupts.

A brand new star suddenly seems to appear, although not for long. Just a few nights later it will have rapidly faded, disappearing back into the darkness.

During the prime of their lives, stars are powered by nuclear fusion reactions deep inside their cores. Most commonly, hydrogen is turned into helium creating enough energy to keep the star stable and shining for billions of years.

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