How long have you stared into the night sky? Let me suggest that few of us – those who live far from cities, see the night sky at least approximately the way it is. Meanwhile, it is believed that the starry sky above our heads constantly and consistently. In the end, the sailors for centuries were guided by the stars, using the constellations as a guide for ships. In turn, the stargazers, carefully peering into the cosmic ocean, noted on maps of the night sky approximately the same shape. So, today, we distinguish constellations Big and little dipper, Dragon, Snake, Dolphin and at least 84 of the constellations. But could it be that we are not carefully watched the sky for a head, and it still changing?
How has the night sky?
Comparing 70-year-old observations with recent images of the night sky, a group of astronomers looking for objects in the sky that could disappear from our sight over the decades. After years of hard work, the participants of the project “a century of sightings” (VASCO), has published the first results in the journal The Astronomical Journal, according to which at least 100 luminous objects that appeared in the mid-20th century, most likely dark. But what happened to them and what kind of objects?
According to the authors of the study, the missing light sources can be objects whose life cycle ended. Astronomers emphasize that almost certainly the preliminary findings were consistent with the natural and well-studied events, such as a supernova or the death of galaxies. At the same time, the researchers hope that in the future the results of their work will be relevant to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
When the life cycle of some stars comes to an end, their death marks the supernova is a phenomenon in which the brightness of the stars increases sharply, gradually fading out. In the flash, supernova quanta collapse into the dark the most dense objects in the Universe – neutron star or the mysterious black holes. Read more about the evolution and death of stars and other celestial objects read our material.
The opportunity to get to see how things have changed starry sky over the last 70-100 years will enable astronomers to find new, unexpected ways the death of stars or galaxies. This is not to exclude that the source of light disappeared maybe the alien civilizationthat has learned to use the energy of the home star, or even their galaxy.
The missing star
In the study, the astronomers analyzed about 600 million light sources and found about 150 000 on first glance of the disappeared objects. These missing light sources, they are compared with images from other data sets to identify remaining candidates and determine which of them represent real light sources, not the fault of the camera or other problem. In the end, the researchers found 100 missing light sources.
If further observations confirm that the missing light is a real astronomical event, they can be divided into two categories. Most likely, discovered the missing objects point to the flares of red dwarfs, variable stars, the afterglow of gamma-ray bursts and other transient cosmic phenomena. The research noted that further observations will be found hundreds of sources.
Besides, in 2021 will be a launch of the space telescope James Webb (NASA), which will allow more to study the atmosphere of distant exoplanets, and in 2022 it will start Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a wide – angle overview of a large reflecting telescope which scans the sky every three nights. New telescopes, as rightly suggested by the authors of the study, will accelerate the hunt for strange, disappearing objects, changing the appearance of the night sky.