Rare Celestial Event: Nova Explosion of T Coronae Borealis to Light up the Night Sky in September

HOUSTON, TEXAS – A rare celestial event set to captivate astronomers and stargazers worldwide this September will be the explosion of T Coronae Borealis, also known as the “Blaze Star,” visible to the naked eye from Earth. Situated about 3,000 light-years away in the Corona Borealis constellation, T CrB is a binary star system comprising a white dwarf and a red giant, known to undergo periodic nova explosions approximately every 80 years.

This upcoming event has been described as a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence by Rebekah Hounsell, an assistant research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This unique event will allow young people to observe, inquire, and collect valuable data, fostering a new generation of astronomers. The interaction between the white dwarf and the red giant in T CrB leads to hydrogen accumulation on the white dwarf’s surface, triggering a thermonuclear explosion that results in a nova.

The public’s anticipation for the upcoming nova event is intensified by the opportunity for observation. The constellation ‘Northern Crown,’ located west of the Hercules constellation and identifiable by scanning between the bright stars Vega and Arcturus, will offer a prime viewing location for the nova’s visibility with the naked eye for nearly a week. Citizen scientists are encouraged to contribute to data collection during the peak and decline of the event, aiding in valuable scientific findings.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, alongside missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, will be utilized to track the nova. Recurrent novae, like T CrB, are known for their unpredictability and complexity, presenting a continual challenge for researchers to understand their behavior fully. Researchers at Goddard are eager to witness how T CrB will behave during this anticipated event and welcome global community interaction and engagement in observing and reporting on the phenomena.