• A binary star system is expected to explode in about 60 years
  • The main star of V Sagittae has been losing mass
  • The stellar explosion will be bright enough to be observed from Earth

Scientists recently revealed that a binary star system near Earth might explode about 60 years from now. According to the scientists, the bright cosmic event would be visible from Earth once it happens.

The binary star system that’s in danger of exploding has been identified as V Sagittae, which lies about 5,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagitta. This system is composed of a main sequence star that’s three times more massive than the Sun and a smaller white dwarf star that’s about 0.9 solar masses.

Recently, a team of scientists from the Louisiana State University shared their findings about the current state of V Sagittae. According to the scientists, they have been studying the data collected on the star system dating back to 1890.

As they were going through the data, the scientists learned that the brightness of the main sequence star of V Sagittae has been increasing by a factor of 10. In addition, its companion white dwarf star has been spinning more violently, which causes it to become more luminous.

According to the scientists, the behavior displayed by the binary star system suggests that its main star is losing its mass because its fuel is being absorbed by the spinning dwarf star. This means that the star system is in danger of exploding and causing a nova event.

Once this happens, V Sagittae would briefly become the most luminous cosmic object in Milky Way. It will become so bright that it can be observed from Earth. According to the scientists, the stellar explosion could happen sometime in 2083.

“Over the next few decades, the star will brighten rapidly,” Bradley Schafer of the Louisiana State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy said in a statement. “Around the year 2083, its accretion rate will rise catastrophically, spilling mass at incredibly high rates onto the white dwarf, with this material blazing away.”

“In the final days of this death-spiral, all of the mass from the companion star will fall onto the white dwarf, creating a super-massive wind from the merging star, appearing as bright as Sirius, possibly even as bright as Venus,” he continued.

The brilliant flash of an exploding star's shockwave — what astronomers call the hock breakout — is illustrated in an artist concept. NASA/JPL