Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Real Death Star?

Scientists are in disagreement over the threat a local star presents to our solar system. They do, however, agree that it will very likely explode in the near future. This star, T Pyxidis, is a pair of stars in close orbit, called a Binary Star. One of this pair, is a White Dwarf, and is siphoning off material from the larger star at a cataclysmic rate.

It is widely accepted that this smaller star is at or near what is known as the Chandrasekhar Limit. This limit is the absolute maximum of matter the small dwarf star can hold without collapsing under it's own gravity. When this star collapses, it will form a Supernova, and destroy everything in the vicinity in a blinding explosion that will light up the sky.

The trouble is some scientists feel we are within the danger zone for this explosion. It is located 3200 light years from Earth, but if the explosion is poweful enough, it could strip away elements of our upper atmosphere, such as our Ozone Layer, on the side facing the explosion. This can lead to a reaction within the atmosphere, wherein all life eventually fails on the Earth's surface.

The scientific community is in disagreement over the danger presented by this small star. But one thing is for certain, when it goes, it will be the show of a lifetime (possibly ALL lifetimes!).

Here is a Popular Science article on this issue...

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