Scientists have solved a century-old mystery of strange light that has perplexed astronomers.
It has now been determined what caused astronomers in the 12th century to see a light as bright as Saturn in the night sky.
According to a study, the light seen by Chinese and Japanese astronomers 840 years ago was caused by a supernova sparked by the collision of two extremely dense stars in the Milky Way.
This is only the second time such a collision between white dwarfs—the smoking leftovers of exhausted stars—and Type Iax supernova has been discovered in our galaxy.
A Type Iax supernova is formed when two degenerate star objects, such as white dwarfs, collide. Type Ia supernovas, which occur in binary systems with a normal star and a white dwarf, are fainter.
Parker’s Star and its nebula Pa 30, the gas and dust disk that surrounds it, were produced by the collision, according to an international team of astronomers.
The occurrence was seen for 85 days, from August 6th, 1181 to February 6th, 1182, and remained unexplained until now. In documents, astronomers compared the light to Saturn, which the study’s authors say likely alluded to its brightness.
Without knowing about supernovas, which are gigantic stellar explosions that occur when a star reaches the end of its life, Chinese astronomers assumed that such bursts of light in the sky were stars that emerged quickly and then vanished. These brief but spectacular flashes of light were dubbed “guest stars.”
The origins of the Chinese Guest Star of AD 1181, or SN 1181 as it is known now, have remained a mystery. It was, in fact, the only “historical supernova” of the last 1,000 years that had not been tied to an actual event until this study.
Another nebula, 3C 58, had previously been thought to represent the relic of the supernova behind AD 1181 because to its close proximity, but it was ruled out due to its age and close observations, according to the authors of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. According to the scientists, there is “no other viable candidate known for the residual.”
That was until the team arrived, which consisted of. This is a condensed version of the information.