Earth to get a second Sun in 2011!
The Earth could soon have a second Sun when one of the brightest stars in the night sky explodes into a supernova.
The cosmic phenomenon, which may happen as soon as this year and remain for at least a week or two, is expected to be the most stunning light show in the planet's history.
According to astronomers, the Earth will undoubtedly have a front row seat when the dying red super-giant star, called Betelgeuse, finally blows itself into oblivion.
The explosion will be so bright that even though the star in the Orion constellation is 640 light-years away, it will still turn night into day and appear like there are two suns in the sky for a few weeks, the Daily Mail reported.
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Image: This is the first direct image of the star other than the Sun. Called Alpha Orionis, or Betelgeuse, the star is a red supergiant.
'This old star is running out of fuel in its centre'
The only real debate is over exactly when it will happen. In stellar terms, Betelgeuse is predicted to crash and burn in the very near future.
Brad Carter, of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, claimed that the galactic blast could happen before 2012 -- or any time over the next million years.
"This old star is running out of fuel in its centre," Dr Carter was quoted as saying.
"This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly.
Image: Computerised depiction of Orion as it might appear from Earth should Betelgeuse explode as a supernova.
Armageddon? Nah, this explodes too far away
"This is the final hurrah for the star. It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up -- we'll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all."
Meanwhile, there is a doomsday theory being floated on the Internet with some linking this supernova to the Mayan calendar's prediction of an Armageddon in 2012.
But experts claimed that even if the big bang is looming, it will still happen way too far from Earth to do us any harm.
"When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called nuetrinos," said Dr Carter.
Image: This artist's impression shows the supergiant star Betelgeuse as it was revealed by the Very Large Telescope.
Betelgeuse supernova will be the most dramatic ever
"They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever."
When it happens, the Betelgeuse supernova will almost certainly be the most dramatic ever seen.
It is the ninth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest in the constellation of Orion.
Image: Position of Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion