Stargazers and scholars have been trying to find the explanation for the bright, bright object in the sky that briefly lit up Japan and China in 1181 CE. This bright object has been a mystery for over 900 years. The mystery may finally be solved by a new study.
According to modern-day measurements of its position, expansion speed and state, the nebula Pa 30 called Parker's Star is one of the hottest objects in the Milky Way. It and the star that surrounds it are a match for this phenomenon, which was observed in the sky over a hundred years ago.
The cloud of dust and gas that makes up Pa 30 expands at an incredible rate of 1,100 km (684 miles per second) according to observations. This suggests that it originated around 1,000 years ago from a central location, most likely from supernova explosions. This is what contemporary astronomers observed back in 1181.
Albert Zijlstra, an astrophysicist from the University of Manchester in UK, says that historical reports place the guest-star between two Chinese constellations: Chuanshe (or Huagai). "Parker's Star is a good fit for the position. This means that both the location and age match the events of 1181.
Stargazers in the 12th century saw an object visible in the sky that was as bright as Saturn. It was visible for six years. They also kept track of its location in the sky.
Astronomers have used these observations to develop a few hypotheses, but they have not been able to pinpoint the source of their findings until now.
Parker's Star and Pa 30 are believed to have been formed by the merger between two small, dense, white dwarf stars. This rare event leaves behind what's called a Type Iax Supernova or zombie star.
Scientists are still studying this rare supernova type. Even rarer is information on how the supernova began, and the remnant that has been left behind.
Zijlstra says that only 10% of supernovae are this type. This is a significant number and it is not well understood. This type is evident in the fact that SN1181 faded slowly and was faint. This is the only event that allows us to study the remnant nebula as well as the merged star, and even give a description about the explosion.
Five bright supernovae have been spotted in the Milky Way since 1006 CE. Astronomers have found matches for the remaining four. Another one, the Crab Nebula, in the Taurus constellation is now known, is thought to be about a thousand years old.
It was first discovered in 2013.
There had been some discussion about whether the supernova could be created by the merger of two white dwarf star stars. Astronomers now have a lot to learn from this discovery about similar supernovae.
Zijlstra says that this supernova Type Iax is the only one where it is possible to study the remnant star, nebula and other details. It is nice to be capable of solving both an astronomical and historical mystery.
The Astrophysical Journal Letters published the research.