New Star to Create Once-in-a-Lifetime Cosmic Show

Most people have never seen a nova. This stellar production is coming imminently to a night sky near you (with some caveats).

Robert Roy Britt
Aha! Science
Published in
11 min readJun 11, 2024

--

In this rendering, a red giant star (right) loses hydrogen to a tiny white dwarf star. Gas piles up until rising pressure and temperature cause the white dwarf to erupt in sudden brightness — a nova. Illustration: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

Before the end of 2024 — really any moment now — a brand new star is expected to burst onto the scene and then fade about as fast as you can binge watch the first six Star Wars flicks. With reasonably dark skies and a little guidance where to look, stargazers all over the top half of the world have a good chance of spotting the star of this show, a nova. Cosmic critics contend it will outshine all but a few dozen of the brightest stars on the night stage.

Well, technically it won’t be a new star. More of an encore, really. And there’s a chance the eruptive but potentially rebellious star might delay the whole gig… for months or even years.

So it goes trying to predict the mercurial personalities of novas (scientists prefer the plural novae, btw).

Nonetheless, an enthusiastic audience of global astronomers, professional and amateur, are on the edge of their seats awaiting the imminent eruption in a binary star system given the very uncatchy stage name T Coronae Borealis.

Dubbed T CrB by fans, the pair of stars last flashed onto the scene in 1946. Since…

--

--

Robert Roy Britt
Aha! Science

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB