A Brief History of High-Energy Astronomy: 1 - 999 CE Era


In Reverse Chronological Order

774 - 775 CE (or AD) A large enhancement in the production of radioactive carbon (14C), as evidenced by dendrochronological (tree-ring) analysis, possibly caused by either a very large solar flare and/or coronal mass ejection, or the high-energy radiation from a nearby supernova, slamming into the Earth's upper atmosphere. The lack of historical records of either a bright supernova visible in the sky or of intense aurorae make the actual cause of this event rather puzzling. Hambaryan and Neuhauser (2013, MNRAS, 430, 32) hypothesize that the event was actually a short gamma-ray burst which occurred 1-4 kpc away within the Milky Way Galaxy: if correct, this would be the first evidence for a short GRB having occurred in our Galaxy.
~ 700 CE (or AD) The oldest known extant star chart is created, the Dunhuang Star chart, by Chinese astronomers based in part on star catalogs produced by their predecessors over the previous millenium. This chart, now held by the British Museum in London, shows the positions of 1300 stars in the sky.
536 - 545 CE (or AD) A decade-long period of unusually world-wide cold weather occurs, based on dendrochronological (tree-ring) and limited historical records. Rigby et al. (2004, A&G, 45, 1.23) suggest this very long 'cold snap' was triggered by the airburst destruction of a comet or comet fragment of only about half a kilometer diameter which released a huge cloud of obscuring dust into the Earth's atmosphere which blocked much of the Sun's light.
421 CE (or AD) Chinese astronomers observe and record a `guest star' which is now suspected to be a supernova explosion, possibly the one which produced the supernova remnant MSH 11-54 = SNR 292.0+01.8 (Wang et al. 1986, Highlights of Astronomy, 7, 583).
393 CE (or AD) Chinese astronomers observe and record a `guest star' which is now considered to be the supernova explosion SN 393, possibly the one which produced the supernova remnant RX J1713.7-3946.
386 CE (or AD) Chinese astronomers observe and record a `guest star' which is now considered likely to be the supernova explosion SN 386 which produced the supernova remnant SNR 011.2-00.3.
185 CE (or AD) Chinese astronomers observe and record a `guest star' which is now considered to be the supernova explosion SN 185 which produced the supernova remnant RCW 86 (SNR 315.0-02.3).
~150 CE (or AD) Claudius Ptolemy publishes his influential studies on mathematics, geography, optics and astronomy, including the Almagest. His detailed geocentric model of the motions of the planets was accepted as correct by most astronomers for the next one and a half millennia .
125 CE (or AD) Chinese astronomers observe and record a `guest star' which is now suspected to be a supernova explosion, possibly the one which produced the supernova remnant 3C 391 = SNR 031.9+00.0 (Wang et al. 1986, Highlights of Astronomy, 7, 583).


Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to this page: Jesse S. Allen, and Ian M. George along with 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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Last modified: Tuesday, 05-Aug-2014 09:19:53 EDT