Larry Molnar, an astronomy professor at Calvin College, announced last week that he and his students are following a one-in-a-million opportunity astronomy event. They predict that a binary star in the constellation Cygnus is showing behaviors that suggest the two will collide and explode, possibly between 2021 and 2023.
They are a contact binary, meaning that the two are so close they share an atmosphere and spin around a common point – now within the contact region – once every 11 hours. I can get this okay for maybe two small planetary moons but two stars, one of which is about 20 times the size of our sun, it’s harder to imagine! Molnar’s students will use an array of large telescopes to monitor how the binary system changes over the next several years.
There has been some research indicating that our solar system had its share of rogue planet activity in its early history. Some studies suggest that rogue worlds outnumber normal planets but that they ultimately end up more like a ‘rebel without a cause’ and so move on – after causing great havoc.