German researches have uncovered evidence of the Arabic scholar Ibn Sina’s sighting of supernova 1006 (SN 1006). The new evidence will sit alongside that of others around that globe that reported details of what has been described as the brightest stellar event ever recorded by human beings.
Ibn Sina was a Persian scientist and philosopher, who as part of his observations, traveled a lot and wrote about what he saw, along with his interpretations of subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy. One of the texts named Kitab al-Shifa, related to physics, meteorology, and especially astronomy that caught the attention of the researchers. A section of particular note described a bright object appearing in the sky in the year 1006. The section had been studied before, but the account had been attributed to a discussion of a comet.
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In their recorded paper, German researchers Ralph Neuhaeuser, Carl Ehrig-Eggert and Paul Kunitzsch present the translation of ancient skygazer Ibn Sina’s text, describe an object that was very bright and that changed color over time before fading away – even noting at one point the object threw out sparks. The researchers suggest the description was actually that of SN 1006.
SN 1006 was noted and described by others around the world, from places such as Morocco, Japan, Yemen and China, but none of those descriptions included information about the object changing colors. Sina wrote the object started out as faint greenish-yellow, that it twinkled especially at its brightest, and then became whitish before it disappeared altogether.
Most modern astronomers believe that SN 1006 was not just a Ia supernova (which occur when a white dwarf is pulled into another star causing it to blow up due to the overabundance of matter), but that it was the result of two white dwarfs colliding. This new information from an ancient part-time astronomer, the researchers suggest, may help to better understand an event that occurred over a thousand years ago.
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