In my memory this story has a golden age feel but might be more recent. The crew of an experimental ship reaches the destination system only to find it is going nova, discover an unknown effect of their new drive has triggered the nova, and realize at the end that they have already destroyed earth.


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Sounds like the Randall Garrett short story "Time Fuze".

The story is available on Project Gutenberg.

Leicher shrugged. "In one way of thinking, yes. It is certainly true that we will never know, now, whether Alpha Centauri A ever had any planets. But, in another way, it is extremely fortunate that we should be so near a stellar explosion because of the wealth of scientific information we can obtain. As you say, it is a coincidence, and probably one that happens only once in a billion years. The chances of any particular star going nova are small. That we should be so close when it happens is of a vanishingly small order of probability."

... [later]

A little more than half a light year from Sol, when the ship reached the point where its occupants could see the light that had left their home sun more than seven months before, they watched it become suddenly, horribly brighter. A hundred thousand times brighter!

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    Yes! Thank you. Much appreciated.
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