A Brief History of High-Energy Astronomy: 1500 - 1599
In Reverse Chronological Order
||The German astronomer David Fabricius discovers the variability of the
star Omicron Ceti, later named Mira or the Wonderful
Star, probably making
it the first non-nova, non-supernova variable star to be recognized as
1638, Johann Holwarda determined the period of variability of this
protypical pulsating red giant star to be about 11 months. It was found
in 1923 by Aitken to have a close (0.6") visual companion. This fainter star
is immersed in and presumably accreting material from the red giant's
stellar wind. Mira, unlike most red giants, is in fact a weak X-ray source,
and Jura and Helfand (1984, ApJ, 287,785) suggested that the emission is
related to this wind-star interaction.
||Tycho Brahe, as well as Chinese and Korean astronomers, makes observations
of an apparent new star that appeared in the constellation of Cassiopeia.
This new star ("stella nova")
initially rivaled Venus in brightness and then faded slowly to imperceptability
over the next sixteen months. Astronomers have identified Tycho's `Star' as
actually the explosion of a star, i.e., a supernova, and the extensively
studied supernova remnant (and bright X-ray
source) that it left behind , SNR
021.0+63.0, is now known as Tycho's Supernova Remnant in his honor.
Nicolaus Copernicus' landmark
"De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium" (On the Revolutions
of the Heavenly Spheres) in which he proposed that the Sun was (close to)
the center of the Universe (solar system), not the Earth, i.e., the
||Chinese astronomers observe and record a `po star'.
Wang (in New Century of X-Ray Astronomy, p. 284, 2001)
argue that this `po star', unlike most others which are
now believed to be comets, might have been a hypernova (a supernova like
SN 1998bw which had much more kinetic energy release than the typical value),
and that the magnetar PSR J1846-0258 is the neutron star remnant created
in this event. However, most astronomers believe that the magnetar is
instead the core of the star that exploded to form the
supernova remnant 029.7-00.2 (Kes 75), and hence is much older
than this event (2000 years rather than 500 years old).
Return to main History
of High-Energy Astronomy page
We would like to thank the following individuals for their
contributions to this page:
Jesse S. Allen, and
Ian M. George
JPL's Space Calendar and the
Working Group for the History of Astronomy's
Astronomiae Historia (History of Astronomy) information pages.
Web page author: Stephen A. Drake (based on an original by Jesse S. Allen)
Web page maintainer: Stephen A. Drake
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