Supernova Surprise: How to Spot a Fallen Star – National Geographic News Watch


Attendees of a Royal Astronomical Society meeting in Wales this week are likely abuzz over a study presented yesterday that says there really was a bright star that appeared the day King Charles II was born in May 1630.

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Dubbed the royal star, this legendary celestial guest was described as a star shining so bright that it was visible during the day with the naked eye.

“Never [had] any Starre appeared before at the birth of any (the Highest humane Hero) except our Saviour,” English writer Edward Matthew penned in a 1661 pamphlet.

Although most historians thought such stories were royal propaganda, new evidence suggests the “star” may have been a supernova called Cassiopeia A.

(Related: “‘Light Echo’ Helps Solve Supernova Mystery.”)

CassA was once a massive star that ended its life in a violent explosion. According to the new calculations, since light from the blast would have taken about 10,000 years to reach Earth, the supernova would have appeared right around Charles’s 17th-century birth.

Whether the royal story is true or not, it is possible for people on Earth to witness the light from emerging supernovae.

via Supernova Surprise: How to Spot a Fallen Star – National Geographic News Watch.

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