HomeNewsAlmost 1,000-Year-Old ‘Cosmic Mystery’ Finally Solved

Almost 1,000-Year-Old ‘Cosmic Mystery’ Finally Solved

by Megan Molseed
(Illustration by Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Scientists have found answers to a cosmic mystery that has been around for nearly nine hundred years.

The eery cosmic mystery was surrounding the origins of a supernova. This supernova was first spotted over China in the year 1181. And, after literal centuries have passed, the mystery has finally been solved.

Scientists have recently uncovered the source of the twelfth-century explosion. According to reports, the source is a fast-expanding, but very faint, nebula scientists have dubbed Pa30.

According to Chinese and Japanese astronomers, this twelfth-century blast was as bright as Saturn. So bright and prominent, in fact, that this cosmic mystery remained visible to astronomers for as many as six months.

According to scientists, this Pa30 supernova source surrounds Parker’s Star. Parker’s Star is one of the hottest stars known to astronomers within the Milky Way galaxy. According to scientists, this discovery fits the profile of the supernova cosmic mystery seen so many centuries ago; fitting the profile based on its location, and the age of the historic supernova.

This Is the First Time Explosion Remnants Have Been Identified

The astronomers who first caught sight of this amazing phenomenon did record the approximate location where they spotted a supernova in the sky, way back in the twelfth century.

However, the source of the supernova continued to be a mystery because scientists were unable to confirm remnants of an explosion. Until now.

So far, scientists have only identified five of these bright supernovae within the Milky Way over the last millennium. This includes the identification of the famous Crab nebula.

This long-searched-for discovery was made by an international team of astronomers hailing from Hong Kong, the UK, Spain, Hungary, and France.

According to the researchers, the Pa30 nebula is expanding at an extreme velocity, reportedly a velocity of more than 1,100 km per second. A journey from the Earth to the moon would take just five minutes at this speed.

After recording the Pa30 nebula’s speed, the scientists were able to determine the nebula’s age. The nebula is about 1,000 years. And, the researchers determined, this would match perfectly with the reports made regarding the cosmic mystery nearly 900 years ago.

‘The historical reports place the guest star between two Chinese constellations, Chuanshe and Huagai,” noted Professor Albert Zijlstra, one of the astronomers involved in the research.

“Parker’s Star fits the position well,” the professor continued of the now solved cosmic mystery. “That means both the age and location fit with the events of 1181.”

Answers to the Cosmic Mystery Get More Interesting

Researchers have previously considered the idea that the Pa30 nebula and Parker’s Star formed due to the merging of two white dwarfs.

A white dwarf is a star, such as our sun, that has come to the end of its life. Using up all of its “nuclear fuel.”

According to Zijlstra, these mergers are rare and lead to a faint supernova called a Type Iax supernova.

“It is the only such event where we can study both the remnant nebula and the merged star, and also have a description of the explosion itself,” the scientist explained. “It is nice to be able to solve both a historical and an astronomical mystery.”