110 light years from Earth...
I don't think so. Come on Reg, you can do better than this. The story is riddled with nonsense.
Researchers operating the Hubble telescope have observed an unusual supernova explosion that leaves behind what scientists call a "zombie star". NASA said a team of astronomers had used the giant orbital telescope to capture images of a star system that, despite going supernova, produces surviving dwarf stars rather than …
A supernova would have to be within 40 Ly to be serious cause for concern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_supernova . At 26 Ly it's estimated that half of our ozone layer would be destroyed. Closer than that, and inverse squares is a real bummer.
It's probably happened once or twice in the last billion years. One of many candidates for causing a mass extinction. We do know that there are no candidates in our galactic neighbourhood at present. Betelgeuse is at a safe distance (good thing too -- we see a very unstable star in its last few milennia, so it's not competely inconceivable that it has already blown up and that we'll get to watch it in our lifetimes).
"A supernova would have to be within 40 Ly to be serious cause for concern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_supernova . At 26 Ly it's estimated that half of our ozone layer would be destroyed. Closer than that, and inverse squares is a real bummer."
Ah, but a singularity *or* neutron star with its pole pointed at us could still give severe star burn to everyone on the planet. GRB's suck for around 600 ly or so.
Hmmm, which do you think we'll get to see first? Sag A* "eating" or Betelgeuse popping its cork?
Most types of supernovae are only dangerous to Earth's ecosystem at distances under 26 light-years. A type II supernova at 26 light-years would knock out about half the ozone layer by producing some stratospheric nitrous oxides with its radiation.
I'm not sure what value you put in Wikipedia, but it has a nice summary of the threat and past events, plus a crunchy bibliography on the topic.
"I'm not sure what value you put in Wikipedia, but it has a nice summary of the threat and past events, plus a crunchy bibliography on the topic."
My daughters, when in college, had objected that Wikipedia was prohibited for research.
I calmly remarked that one may not use the *article*, but the bibliography and citations are most certainly usually acceptable. :)
I have long remarked to everyone that Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia that "everyone" edits.
However, with time I have to admit that it is getting better, and the editor snafus and diva issues have apparently come somewhat under control.
I don't know how cutthroat the wiki editing scene is now, nor do I have any idea if the internal kingdoms are still in place, but viewed from the outside, Wikipaedia is apparently actually useful now.
Of course, I have this opinion only on scientific pages. I still stay away from celebrity pages or pop references as much as I can.
Yup. Our galaxy is of the order of 100,000LY across and 10,000LY deep. IIRC galactic dimensions range from about an order of magnitude smaller than ours to about an order of magnitude larger. Extra-galactic objects will generally be at distances of millions of light years even if they're in the closest nearby galaxies (the exceptions being if the thing concerned is in one of the nearby dwarf galaxies that are nearby - but even then, you're talking distances of over 100,000LY).
Bit disappointing to see sub-BBC-quality science reporting in El Reg...
The worst nonsense of the story, "(a trick we may need in a few billion years)".
To require that, we'd need to add around four times the sun's current mass (off the cuff estimate), to account for losses during the red giant phase and still retain 2.5 solar masses.
Then, a bit of magic to make the numbers still work...
Sol can *never* go supernova, save if another star rams into it and that star has enough mass. And well, we'd have worse problems than trying to outrun a supernova. You know, like ejection from the star system. Or ramming into either star as our orbit is turned into rubbish.
The 8 times mass is strictly speaking not true in this case as we are talking about a type 1a supernova that is supposed to have a white dwarf progenitor (i.e. what our sun will end up as) so I would be more conserned by surviving the red gigant stage of the sun. Then ofcourse we would need to get a second red giant in close orbit with the sun to transfer some mass via Roche lobe overflow to the white dwarf surface.
I was getting seriously afraid that we might be at a million to one odds here that in accordance with Terry Pratchett would have almost assured it to happen, but I'm quite confidence the odds are way worse then that, so we should all be safe!
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