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If you look at the night sky, you may notice a new star shining down on earth


A star that is currently invisible to the naked eye is expected to appear in the night’s sky any day now.

According to Tyrone Woods, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Manitoba, the star is a recurrent nova that was first discovered in 1866 and then again in 1946.

“We think that it’s going to erupt in the night’s sky again some time in the next few weeks,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Woods explained that this once-in-a-lifetime event involves a binary system – two stars in the same solar system -- in the Corona Borealis constellation.

He said one of the stars has exhausted its fuel and left behind a white dwarf, while the other star is a red giant that is nearing the end of its life. Woods added the red giant has puffed up to large dimensions, with some its outermost material flowing onto the other star.

“As we speak, that matter is slowly piling up on the surface of the white dwarf until it builds up enough pressure and temperature to ignite nuclear burning, which will then rip through all the accreted material in a nuclear fire storm that will erupt and briefly make it bright enough to see with the naked eye,” he said.

Astronomers have been watching this system, which is known as T Cor Bor, for years. It is currently showing many of the same characteristics as the 1946 eruption.

In order to see the star, Woods suggests looking towards the Corona Borealis, which is between Hercules and Bootes. 

“Against the edge of the ‘C,’ you’re going to see nothing most of the summer and then at some point and then after that for about a week thereafter, a star will appear that will be about as bright as the North Star, as Polaris,” Woods said. “Then it will gradually fade away from view.”

Woods added that this eruption serves as an important test case for astronomers to understand how stars evolve.

He noted that comparing what happened in 1946 to what astronomers are seeing now, the eruption should take place at any point from now up until September or October.

- With files from CTV’s Maralee Caruso. Top Stories

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