GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - In five years, there will be an explosion in the sky that people will be able to see from Earth with their naked eye, according to a current professor and a former student at Calvin College.
Dr. Larry Molnar made a prediction in 2015 of a binary star merging in the near future.
"It's a one-in-a-trillion chance that you can predict an explosion," Molnar said. "Predicting something like this has never been done before."
Daniel Van Noord, who graduated from Calvin in 2014, picked up on some research done by astronomer Romuald Tylenda in 2008.
"I went back and pulled copies of the data and reanalyzed it myself," said Van Noord, who was Molnar's research assistant. "I noticed the period was definitely changing, getting shorter and faster then any system I had seen previously."
Molnar and Van Noord kept their research of the possible collision secret until they unveiled their findings during a news conference Jan. 6, 2017, in Texas.
"There was a signature of bright, dim, bright dim and the signature of the two stars orbiting each other, which meant this was a binary star that was going to blow up, " said Molnar.
Van Noord is thrilled that his years of research is finally going public.
"Too see this all come to a point where more people know about what we've been working on is just great," Van Noord said. "It means I got to be a part of one of the largest astronomy discoveries this decade."
Molnar and Van Noord have concluded that the two stars, which make up the northern wing of the constellation Cygnus, will merge and cause an explosion in space sometime in the year 2022.
"When the collision happens, the star is going to getb brighter by a factor of 10,000," Mulnar added. "From Earth, people will see three white stars, then a red one right next to those.
"The red-colored looking star will be this explosion."
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