Two stars will merge in 2022 and explode into naked eye visible red fury

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Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Jan 31, 2009
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In 2022, there will be a spectacular sky show. Two stars will merge into one, pushing out excess gas into an explosion known as a red nova. At magnitude 2, it will be as bright as Polaris in the sky, and just behind Sirius and Vega in brightness. The collision in the constellation of Cygnus will be visible for up to six months.

That’s pretty impressive. What’s more impressive: we’ve never been able to predict a nova before. But Lawrence Molnar, a professor of astronomy and physics at Calvin College, was able to find a pair of oddly behaving stars giving an indication of what might happen.

The objects, termed KIC 9832227, are currently contact binaries. Contact binary refers to two objects that are so close they are currently touching. The object was discovered by Kepler. The expected outcome is a merger between the two stars that will put on quite a show. Because both are low mass stars, the expected temperature is low, with Molnar terming it a “red nova.”

What we all forget, is this has already happened. We are waiting for the light from the event to reach us. Interstellar distances are mind boggling.
What we all forget, is this has already happened.
I didn't. A better column title would have been "We will witness two stars merging in 2022", but the column title is "Two stars will merge in 2022 and explode into red fury" and my title was just a cut and paste with the very important addition of "naked eye visble". Here's a related interesting fact - if our sun were to suddenly disappear we would not witness that for about 8 minutes and we would continue to orbit something that was no longer there, also for about 8 minutes. That speed of light thang.

Also, that illustration is not accurate. One of the stars is much smaller than the other.
My 8th grade self is coming out. Those look like a nice pair of lemons, if you know what I mean!