A group of undergraduate students in the astronomy program at the University of Saskatchewan has been observing a rare event in the northwest sky.
A couple of weeks ago, astronomers in Japan discovered a nova eruption, so the U of S students have been observing it and contributing data to an international study.
Astronomy lecturer Stan Shadick explains that this eruption is a fairly rare event.
What happens is a white dwarf star has a powerful gravitational field that siphons hydrogen gas from a second star and then it erupts or explodes.
This particular star was classified as a dwarf nova because it had smaller eruptions, but in this occasion, it became a classical nova with what might be described as an explosion that is a small version of a hydrogen bomb, increasing its brightness by about 10-thousand times before gradually fading.
Regular classes are over right now, so Shadick says, these students are observing and taking down data in their own free time, to be a part of this rare event.