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The brightest star in the sky

In April 1006, scientists saw “the most brilliant supernova recorded in history.”

Imagine looking into the night sky and seeing a new star, one that was brighter than Venus, as bright as the quarter moon.

That’s what happened happened in 1006, around the end of April (according to most experts). It was “the most brilliant supernova recorded in history.” The new star would stalk the heavens for as long as three years.

Due to its brightness and longevity, researchers have identified about 30 reports from around the world:  China, Europe and Japan as well as throughout the Arab world.

[T]he most careful observations of the new star of 1006 originate from East Asia… In China, the new star was recorded in as many as nine separate sources, notably in various sections of the Songshi (“History of the Song Dynasty”: 960—1279). Other valuable Chinese sources include the Song Huiyao (“Important Documents of the Song Dynasty”), covering the period 960—1220, and the Xu Zhixi Tongjian Changbian (“Long Draft of the Continuation of the Comprehensive Mirror as an Aid to Government”), a detailed chronicle covering 960—1126.

Today we know this event as SN 1006. In 2016, a German astrophysicist found a new reference to the supernova in the works of the Persian scientist Ibn Sina (in the West, known as Avicenna).

But what is a supernova?

When a massive star runs out of fuel, it cools off. This causes the pressure to drop. Gravity wins out, and the star suddenly collapses. Imagine something one million times the mass of Earth collapsing in 15 seconds! The collapse happens so quickly that it creates enormous shock waves that cause the outer part of the star to explode!”

That resulting explosion is a supernova.

There is more than one type of supernova.

Astronomers think that that SN1006 was a Type Ia. Scientists believe that type is the result of the explosion “of a carbon-oxygen white dwarf in a binary system.” Astronomers can still see the debris cloud from the explosion.

In 2008, NASA scientists released an image of SN1006 from the Hubble telescope.

Today we know that SN 1006 has a diameter of nearly 60 light-years, and it is still expanding at roughly 6 million miles per hour… In the Hubble image as displayed, the supernova would have occurred far off the lower right corner of the image, and the motion would be toward the upper left.

SN 1006
SN 1006 Supernoava remnant (Hubble)

#scitech, #space (101/365)
📷 NASA
Daily posts, 2022-2023

 

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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