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Rare Byzantine coin may show a 'forbidden' supernova explosion from 1054 AD, researchers claim

In 1054 AD, a star 6,500 light-years away ran out of fuel and was clearly visible in the sky above Earth for 23 days and several hundred nights. The name of the explosion was Supernova. Despite all this, scientists realized that Byzantine scientists did not write anything about this subject.

The eruption, now known as SN 1054, was so bright that Chinese astronomers called it a "gueststar." Astronomers in Iraq, America and Japan also recorded the extremely bright appearance of the explosion in their written sources. Unlike other countries, there is no written source about this big explosion in Europe, which was ruled by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX and the Christian church at that time.


Could one of the two stars near the Emperor's head show a 'forbidden' supernova that lit up the sky over Byzantium for more than a year? (Image credit: cngcoins.com/ Filipovic et al.)


Researchers are investigating the cause of this condition. They consider the church is ignoring this eruption or is it a nefarious plan to obscure the reality of the cosmos. The answer to all these question marks is thought to be hidden in the unexpected result of the new research. According to this research, the answer to this question is hidden in a limited edition gold coin.

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In a study published by the European Journal of Science and Theology in August 2022, researchers analyzed four Byzantine gold coins minted during the reign of Constantine IX from 1042 to 1055 AD.

The researchers suggest that the fourth coin, which shows two bright stars framing an image of the emperor's head, may be a depiction of the 1054 supernova.


The research group suggests that the emperor's head represents the sun, the eastern star Venus - a regularly visible daytime object also called the "morning star" - and the western star SN 1054, which can be seen for about a month. Opposite Venus is the daytime sky. It is also the team's claim that it may also represent the Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic churches that were separated from each other during an event called the Great Split in July 1054.

If the interpretations are correct, that is, the coin points to SN 1054, it is thought that Byzantine scholars may have forbidden them to study or write about the supernova due to religious restrictions.


In the paper published by the researchers, they wrote that the church may have "a philosophical bias towards any observed change in the supposedly perfect and endless night sky."


Given the split at the time, church officials thought it might be better to simply ignore the supernova. However, at least one scientist living at that time is thought to have recorded such a remarkable event by not ignoring it.

"Given the Church's stand on astronomy/astrology, there would be a strong incentive not to report the occurrence of any event — including an obvious supernova — that would threaten the theological/astronomical status quo," the study authors wrote. "Perhaps one of the ways for a clever astronomer at Constantine IX's University of Constantinople to record the event would be to use a cipher, in this case, a minted coin of a special edition that was minted after the 1054 event."


Researchers visited many museum collections to examine 36 copies of the two-star coin, in order to bring to light studies on different subjects. As a result of the visits, it was noticed that the size of the western star depicted on the coins was not uniform, but became smaller over time. This likely indicated that SN 1054 represented the gradual darkening of Earth's sky.

Although it is known that the authors of the study did not carry out the study based on concrete evidence, it is thought that the claims they put forward are acceptable hypotheses. The size and arrangement of stars on the coins represent something else entirely, and can only be thought of as coinciding with the appearance of the supernova. It is also known that there is no exact date on any of the 36 coins studied. Therefore, it is impossible to say with certainty whether they were minted before or after the supernova occurred.


Today, SN 1054 is still visible in the form of the Crab Nebula, but a good telescope is needed to see its shell beauty.