A Hypernova?

Eta Carinae could kill us all next year. I hate when that happens:

Mario Livio, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland warns that Eta Carinae could be “seen to explode at any time.” [BBC News]

Esteemed NASA scientist Stefan Immler at the Goddard Space Flight Center thinks Eta Carinae could very well explode in our lifetime, or even in the next few years.

Well, maybe Earth has a little more time, right? Well, maybe not.

Some astrophysicists at the European Space Agency have suggested it’s quite possible, based on observational analysis, that the killer star has already gone hypernova thousands of years ago and the speeding death rays could inundate Earth in as little as a year.

How exciting. Of course, that something is “possible” is not to say that it is likely. The problem with this kind of event is that getting off the planet is no protection, per se, though if we were spacefaring, we could at least have shelters ready, and put out pickets in the outer solar system to give us some warning, since there’s some evidence that gamma rays are subluminal.

21 thoughts on “A Hypernova?”

  1. I’ll bet you $200 we don’t all die from a hypernova in 2012. I’ll even give you five to one odds! 🙂

  2. For everyone to die in a GRB, the deadly star’s axis of rotation need to point at us. It doesn’t–presently. The article defines hyperbole.

  3. Even the commenters after the article are calling bu****it on this. When they’re not talking about pyramids, equator shifts, and attacking Obama, that is.

    And, from what I’ve read, the GRB won’t come close to us, because we’re not inline with the pole of the progenitor star.

    Nothing to see here, move along now…

  4. I think it’s more likely the entire human species would morph into Hulk-like characters before a GRB from Eta Carinae would obliterate us.

    /pole pointed the other way
    //lots of other nasty ways to go
    ///wish I had less of an ethos so I could profit from 2012 hysteria…

  5. I’ve had a Chevy Nova explode under me and lived to tell the tale. A Hyper-Nova doesn’t scare me.

  6. At the first part of the article it talked about the people on the side facing the star getting cooked. But then talks about kiloton bombs going off in the upper atmosphere. It wouldn’t be just the people on the surface of the planet facing the hypernova getting cooked. The GRB would burn off the upper atmosphere and strip off the ozone layer off the planet. That’d be a pretty bad day for everyone. And it wouldn’t be the hypernova that kills us. It would be our own Sun cooking us in high-frequency ultraviolet. Though I’d say that gives a fighting chance to fix it; we could go under ground and terraform a new stratosphere.

  7. True, but if its summer down under the UV might start vaporizing the Antarctic ice sheet, Water Vapor is nice shielding. Also you could shelter indoors away from the UV and go out at night, not so with a GRB.

  8. Well, it was nice knowing you guys!

    I guess this also means I don’t have to worry about my underfunded pension.

  9. A boy crying wolf? Y2K (wait til 2038) redux? By pointing at this star with hyperbole do we miss the actual star that got us (…just waiting on travel time.)

    Subluminals and Superluminals and Tigers… Oh my. Somewhere a theoretical physicist is in his candy store.

    Anyway, it happens often enough that it’s a partial explanation of the Fermi paradox. Large parts of a galaxy are out of the habitable zone because they get regularly sterilized. We seem to have a good spot for avoiding this.

    Now if we had colonies on planets mitigating radiation anywaay…

  10. That article is atrociously bad. What Rod and PizzaHog said. The only caveat is that I think the orientation of the star is based on the shape of the Homunculus. So I’m not sure we really know with certainty that it won’t be pointed at us, but the odds are pretty good that it won’t.

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