By Michael J. I. Brown, Monash University | December 31, 2013 05:44pm ET

Nova Centauri 2013, new stars, old stars
It may not look like much from here, but Nova Centauri 2013 – visible for the next few days – is a nuclear explosion on a dead star.
Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre.

This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, you now can safely view the aftermath of a nuclear explosion from the comfort of your own backyard.

Just last week a new “star”, Nova Centauri 2013, was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer John Seach. Nova Centauri 2013, is so bright, that it can now be seen with the unaided eye.

When we look at the night sky, most of the stars we see are suns. These stars are enormous spheres of hydrogen and helium gas, held together by the force of gravity. At their cores, hydrogen is fused into helium via nuclear fusion, and the energy released from nuclear fusion can power stars for billions of years.

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