Astronomers are predicting a collision between two stars will light up the sky in 2022

A great disturbance beckons. Picture: Lucasfilm

An astronomy team in the US are predicting two stars will collide in 2022, and for the first time in recorded human history, we’ll all be able to see it.

At last week’s 229th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Professor Lawrence Molnar and his team from Calvin College in Michigan gave the presentation “A Precise Prediction of a Stellar Merger and Red Nova Outburst“.

Universe Today reports that stars collide in our galaxy roughly once every 10,000 years. To be alive when it happens, and at a time when technology will make it such a spectacularly visible event, is remarkable.

The explosion, Molnar and his team claim, will create the brightest object in the night sky.

Molnar has been watching and taking measurements from the movements of binary system KIC 9832227 since 2013, when brightness changes were first recorded by Karen Kinemuchi at the Apache Point Observatory.

Once the Clavin team had established the brightness changes weren’t caused by a third star, it began examining whether the two stars were getting closer as they orbited each other.

“It took most of the summer to analyze the data, but it was so exciting,” Calvin student Cara Alexander said.

By 2015, they had determined the stars were close to an explosion known as a “Red Nova” and pegged the date as somewhere between 2018 and 2020.

But the new paper places the more exact date at 2022 and precise dates will be more available as astronomers monitor KIC 9832227 with the Very Large Array (VLA), NASA’s Infrared Telescope at Mauna Kea, and the ESA’s XMM-Newton spacecraft.

When the collision comes, it will be seen as part of the constellation Cygnus.

In the Southern Hemisphere, Cygnus can be seen during winter, low on the northern horizon. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s visible between June and December.

The team’s work is being recorded for a feature length documentary, “Luminous”, which will be released after the event in 2023. Here’s the trailer:

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