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Do ancient coins record the supernova of 1054?

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

SN 1054 was one of the most spectacular astronomical events of all time. The supernova explosion eventually formed what is today known as the M1—the Crab Nebula. But in 1054 AD, the year it occurred, it was an ultrabright star in the sky and one of only eight recorded supernovae in the history of the Milky Way. However, it was only noted by half of the literate world. Primarily written about in the East, especially in China, SN 1054 was almost wholly absent from the Western record—except, potentially, for a subtle hint at it in the most unlikely of place: some Byzantine coins.

At least, that is the new theory according to a multinational group of researchers in the European Journal of Science and Theology. They found that a special version of a coin minted by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX showed two stars around the emperor's head—potentially representing a nod to the existence of SN 1054, despite any written evidence for the supernova's existence elsewhere in the Christian world.



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