In 2018 Two Stars Will Crash Into Each Other Causing The Fireworks Display Of The Millennium

Ever since the movie The Day After Tomorrow, the world seems to have become obsessed with the idea of the world coming to an end. First there was 2012 and the Mayans, now we have San Andreas with the planet put in the hands of a WWF wrester and in the interim we’ve had a heavy scattering of imposing disaster stories in the media.

While this space disaster probably won’t actually destroy earth, it will inevitably contribute to the astrological fatalism in the media and the sense that we’re all doomed. But compared to many other recent space stories, this is good news. A neutron star rotating hundreds of times a minute will crash into a star fifteen times the size of the sun – causing an incredible fireworks display.

In 2018 Two Stars Will Crash Into Each Other Causing The Fireworks Display Of The Millennium

The star, pulsar J2032+4127 (or J-Dog, for short) is currently on course to smash into another star aptly named MT91 213. (It’s not apt, I know.) The collision will occur at a speed of 300 kilometres (190 miles) a second. That’s faster than… well, that’s faster than everything. NASA is planning to train an array of telescopes on the collision point which is around 5,000 light years from Earth. (Yeah – we’re probably safe.)

J2032 is a remnant of a star which went (champagne) supernova. It’s about 12 miles across and has around twice the mass of the sun. However, champagne supernova’s rotation is pretty lacklustre compared to that of J-Dog – with a lazy rotation of seven revolutions per second. J-Dog, on the other hand, has more spin on it than a backhand from Rodger Federer – rotating at a speed of 200 kilometers (120 miles) per second. As a ‘Be Star’, it is large, hot and this particular one is 10,000 times brighter than the sun. It’s also slowly decreasing in size due to the insane speed at which it’s spinning.

In 2018 Two Stars Will Crash Into Each Other Causing The Fireworks Display Of The Millennium

“We do not know for sure what to expect,” explains Andrew Lyne from the University of Manchester. “Events like this are extremely rare and we have witnessed only two other systems with encounters like this, but with smaller orbits and with less massive stars, so there is not much to go on observationally.”

It looks like we may need some more time before we know for sure what’s going to happen. Until this time, we might just have to stick to regular fireworks. And while a collision like this is very rare, far stranger things have been found in space.