The universe; the place we call home; both friendly and at times downright deadly. The huge number of dangers surrounding us at this very moment is mind boggling to think about. But even as we are frightened by the threat they pose, we cant help but be awed with wonder at how some of these phenomenon are even possible!
Star Wars has made the concept of ” death stars” famous or infamous if you may like. In the universe, real life death stars exist.
When stars have reached the end of their life span, they explode into an array of shooting radiation and the star’s materials that pose a potent threat to any objects in its path. Stars are classified according to their sizes. Only the larger stars are destructive as they are capable of becoming a supernova. Smaller stars like our sun will turn into a red giant as it dies and are relativelky harmless. As a supernova is formed, it emits as much energy as the sun would in its entire life span. A supernova a distance apart from the earth does not have sufficient destructive power to cause worry. However, certain large stars spinning at a sufficient velocity can emit gamma ray bursts which are concentrated lines of immense energe released from both ends of the supernova. The direction of the gamma ray bursts follows the axis of the rotation of the star. The sides are protected die to the spirals of star dust. It is predicted that the star WR104 (a wolf rayet star) which is about 8 thousand light years from the earth has a possibility of emmitting one of these gammay ray bursts and the axis of the rotation of the star is directly in line with the earth. NASA sattelites ahve been able to see the oldest ever gamma rays emitted from a star at the edge of the universe that exploded shortly after the big bang.. The blast was named “GRB 080913.
There can be death galaxies as well. These are much more powerful than death stars. There has been evidence of a death star galaxy with a black hole centre shooting a powerful mass of energy at another nearby galaxy, some of this energy being reflected off the surface of the nearby galaxy.
“Known as 3C321, the system contains two galaxies in orbit around each other. Data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory show both galaxies contain super massive black holes at their centers, but the larger galaxy has a jet emanating from the vicinity of its black hole. The smaller galaxy apparently has swung into the path of this jet. ” quote: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/07-139.html
Jets from super massive black holes produce high amounts of radiation, especially high-energy X-rays and gamma-rays, which can be lethal in large quantities. The combined effects of this radiation and particles traveling at almost the speed of light could severely damage the atmospheres of planets lying in the path of the jet. For example, protective layers of ozone in the upper atmosphere of planets could be destroyed.
Neutron stars are like phoenixes that turn back alive after its death from its own ashes. Some larger starrs have so much energy at its centre that the protons and the electrons will combine to form neutrons and these neutron stars may remain stable for a long time. Two neutron stars may collide and form a destructive explosion.