Experts argue how the discovery shows that nova explosions in binary star systems with white dwarf occur in cycles of several thousand years. At the end of each cycle, the white dwarf explodes. However, the dwarf star—which may contain as much matter as the sun, packed into a cosmic body the size of planet Earth—survives the explosion and restarts its cycle.
“In the same way that an egg, a caterpillar, a pupa, and a butterfly are all life stages of the same organism, we now possess strong evidence that supports the idea that these binary stars are all the same thing seen in different phases of their lives,” Shara said. “The real challenge here is understanding the evolution of these systems is that unlike watching the egg transform into the eventual butterfly, which can happen in just a month, the life-cycle of a nova is hundreds of thousands of years. We simply haven’t been around long enough to see a single complete cycle. The breakthrough was being able to reconcile the 580-year-old Korean recording of this event to the dwarf nova and Nova shell that we see in the sky today.”