A model for predicting exactly when a binary star will merge and explode has a literal one-in-a-million chance of being accurate — it’s never been done before.
But Calvin College professor Larry Molnar and his colleagues created one regardless, and it sure looks accurate so far. And if he’s right, the sky will literally get brighter.
A binary star is actually the term for two stars which orbit one another — so close they basically share an atmosphere. We generally think they must eventually fall into each other, merge, and explode, though no one can say they must do so with certainty. Molnar has been studying the binary star KIC 9832227 since 2013, and believes it will explode in 2022, give or take perhaps a year. He presented the research Friday at the 229th American Astronomical Science meeting in Grapevine, Texas.