Wednesday, September 05, 2007
So what could be more fun than a supernova? You know, them REALLY big explosions that you get when massive stars die. They make nebualas and send shock waves rippling into space across 1000's of light years. They end up making blackholes or neutron stars.
Well there are explosions out there upto the size of 1000 supernova! Thats right, explosions equal to 1000 supernova all in one go! They've been named Hypernovae, formobvious reasons. A guess of what causes them is two blackholes, or a neurton star and a black hole colliding.
The have been detected by whats known as Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB). These can only be detetced from space, so where first discovered on in the 50's when spy satalites started being put on orbit. The explosion collapeses into as spinning ball, and jets of pure energy, in the form of gamma radiation are fired out from poles at each end. The power of these jets is plane staggering and is hard to comprehend.
When they were first discovered, it wasnt know that they were very narrow-beam jets; the scientists asumed it was the whole explosion they were witnessing. So they did the maths and calculated that the explosion was bigger than the Big Bang - which wasnt possible. That would have blown the whole Universe up! So the energy coming from either pole in a beam across space is measured in the same terms as the explosion that created of the universe. Nows thats big! :) It was 13 Billion lightyears away, and still was the largest release of energy man has ever witnessed.
If one of these beams ever hit Earth it would fry the atmosphere in seconds, and that would be that! But as the GRB's are only ever in a very narrow beam we would have to be, very, very unlucky for Earth to be lying in the direct path of one of the beams - but its possible. Oh, and we witness about 50 every year. Now wheres my odds calculator?
Have a nice day! :)