‘Lost’ Sighting of Brightest Supernova Found in Ancient Text
Newly translated writings from Arab scholars offer intriguing details about SN 1006, the brightest star explosion in recorded history.
It was a sky show for the record books—a brilliant new star that appeared without warning in April of the year A.D. 1006 and then gradually faded from view a few months later. At its peak, the celestial wonder was reportedly brighter than the planet Venus, even though it was blazing about 7,200 light-years away.
Witnesses describe the event in texts from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe and maybe even in North American petroglyphs. Thanks to these diverse notes, modern astronomers know that this “guest star” was really a supernova, a cosmic explosion called SN 1006.
Now, astronomers digging through ancient texts have found two lost records of the event that add a twist to the tale of the brightest supernova in recorded history.
One section of his multipart opus Kitab al-Shifa, or “Book of Healing,”