V Sagittae is a faint little star in our sky, barely noticeable with a medium-sized telescope. But astronomers from Louisiana State University (LSU) think the faint star is heading towards bright future.
Right next to V Sagittae there is a white dwarf star feeding on its mass to keep itself somewhat glowing. A white dwarf is a remnant of what a star used to be. With its core cooling down as reactions decline due shortage of fuel mass inside, it literally has to steal gases from nearby stars to keep itself burning. If there is no other star in the vicinity, a white star just fades into darkness.
The team of astronomers believe these two stars are going to collide one day, to burn brighter than any other star in our milky way, even Sirius. They estimate a time frame of around 60 years for this to happen.
When it happens they will create an explosion so great that we can watch it with our very own eyes. It might be even brighter than Venus. “Around the year 2083, its ( V Sagittae) accretion rate will rise catastrophically, spilling mass at incredibly high rates onto the white dwarf, with this material blazing away,” says astronomical physicist Bradley Schaefer from LSU.
Accretion rate is the term scientists use to describe the rate at particles is accumulated by an object via its gravitational force. They have noticed that V Sagittae is moving towards its white dwarf neighbour at an increasing pace. A collision in the near future seems inevitable.
The explosion will be somewhat similar to a Supernova, but not as powerful. Supernovas are achieved in white dwarfs whose surface gets heated until a “runaway nuclear reaction” is achieved.
Novas such as the one that’s going to occur here is called Cataclysmic Variables or CVs. Like mentioned earlier they are created when an ordinary star slowly falls into dwarf white star’s orbit. According to researchers, CVs are a common thing in our galaxy – more than a million probably.
V Sagittae’s CV is going to be much brighter than all of those or that whats our astronomers are predicting. Usually, the star that falls into the dead star’s orbit is relatively smaller in size. But here V Sagittae is significantly larger than the adjacent white dwarf.
Astronomers found about the two stars collision course by comparing their current positions and brightness with archived historical photographs from Harvard. The findings of the team were presented at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting.
While the astronomers cannot give an exact date an time, they expect the event to happen somewhere between 2067 and 2099. Even though it may seem like a long wait for most of us, the event will be historical.
Schaefer says “Now people the world over can know that they will see a wondrous guest star shining as the brightest in the sky for a month or so, being pointed at by the Arrow just below Cygnus, the Swan,”.