It's the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans - staring forlornly off into the distance as twin suns sink into the horizon. Yet it's not just a figment of George Lucas's imagination - twin suns are real. And here's the big news - they could be coming to Earth.
Yes, any day now we see a second sun light up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks. The infamous red super-giant star in Orion’s nebula - Betelgeuse - is predicted to go gangbusters and the impending super-nova may reach Earth before 2012, and when it does, all of our wildest Star Wars dreams will come true.
The second biggest star in the universe is losing mass, a typical indication that a gravitation collapse is occurring. When that happens, we'll get our second sun, according to Dr Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland.
“This old star is running out of fuel in its centre”, Dr Carter said. “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.”
When this happens a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun.
The bad news is, it could also happen in a million years. But who's counting? The important thing is, one day, night will become day for several weeks on Earth.
“This is the final hurrah for the star,” says Dr Carter.
“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.”