Based on new research conducted by an international team of astronomers from the United States, Sweden, Spain, Ukraine, and India, there was a group of nine stars that appeared in the sky back in the 1950s only to disappear half an hour later and have never been seen again.
The nine stars were photographed and that’s how the astronomers realized that they only appeared one time. The team compared different pictures from the same area in the sky in order to observe the appearance and disappearance of celestial objects. As a matter of fact, tens of thousands of asteroids, supernovae, variable or flaring stars, and variable Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) have been spotted.
As for the disappearing stars, the photo was taken on April 12, 1950, from the Palomar Observatory in California. The fact that the nine stars were present in the photo but gone just half an hour later never to be seen again is the first time that this has ever happened and scientists can’t explain it.
Dr. Alok C. Gupta, who is a scientist from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) and who participated in the study, noted, “The only thing we can say with certainty is that these images contain star-like objects that should not be there. We do not know why they are there.”
The team, which was led by Dr. Beatriz Villarroel from the Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, went a step further and used the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands to observe the same area in the sky where the stars mysteriously appeared more than 70 years ago. They are now planning on searching through photos from the First Palomar Sky Survey.
They do, however, have to explore every option and since the stars appeared on an old photographic plate, there could have possibly been human contamination on it. Their paper read in part, “One possible explanation is that the plates have been subjected to an unknown type of contamination producing mainly point sources with of varying intensities along with some mechanism of concentration.” The study was published in Scientific Reports where it can be read in full.
But as of right now, the mystery of the nine disappearing stars continues… Both photographs (the one where the stars appeared and the other taken just half an hour later) can be seen here.