Friday, April 15, 2016

Observations of the 1006 Supernova by Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

An Arabic report about supernova SN 1006 by Ibn Sina (Avicenna)


Neuhaeuser et al


We present here an Arabic report about supernova 1006 (SN 1006) written by the famous Arabic scholar Ibn Sina (Lat. Avicenna, AD 980-1037), which was not discussed in astronomical literature before. The short observational report about a new star is part of Ibn Sina's book called al-Shifa', a work about philosophy including physics, astronomy, and meteorology. We present the Arabic text and our English translation. After a detailed discussion of the dating of the observation, we show that the text specifies that the transient celestial object was stationary and/or tail-less ("a star among the stars"), that it "remained for close to three months getting fainter and fainter until it disappeared", that it "threw out sparks", i.e. it was scintillating and very bright, and that the color changed with time. The information content is consistent with the other Arabic and non-Arabic reports about SN 1006. Hence, it is quite clear that Ibn Sina refers to SN 1006 in his report, given as an example for transient celestial objects in a discussion of Aristotle's "Meteorology". Given the wording and the description, e.g. for the color evolution, this report is independent from other reports known so far.

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