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Eta Carinae, Soon To Be a Local Supernova

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-point-that-thing-at-me dept.

Space 317

da4 writes "Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy has a great article about Eta Car, a star approx 7,500 light years away from us that's ready to supernova sometime Real Soon Now." Larger versions of the Hubble-Chandra image of Eta Car are available at the Chandra site. Of course when astronomers say it's "about to explode," they really mean it probably exploded 6,500 to 7,500 years ago and we're awaiting the news.

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i've been (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19613783)

rubbing my dick on pictures of bob saget, and i'm ready to explode real soon now, too.

Re:i've been (1, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614461)

"...rubbing my dick on pictures of bob saget, and i'm ready to explode real soon now, too." ... and the name of this show, The Aristocrats!

Re:i've been (0)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614613)

I agree with the OP.

Just like Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613789)

they really mean it probably exploded 6,500 to 7,500 years ago and we're awaiting the news
Think I'll wait for the dupe explosion.

Schroedingers Nova? (2, Insightful)

kylben (1008989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613795)

If we never get the news, will it actually have exploded, or not?

Re:Schroedingers Nova? (2, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614063)

Way to fall into the editor's trap, trying to spur spurious discussion about whether events outside our lightcone actually happened before they intersected our lightcone. The editors may feel we need help in starting a discussion on many stories.

i cant believe its not horsecock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614139)

nt

Re:i cant believe its not horsecock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614527)

SUP KURON. I don't really get why the horsecock thing is deemed meme-worthy, numerous far more unpleasant images traverse the chans daily.

Bad Astronomy? (2, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613801)

I don't know if we should take the word of someone who runs a site called 'Bad Astronomy'...

*checks TFA*

The blue part is an optical image from Hubble, and shows the bipolar lobes of gas ejected when Eta Car had a coughing fit back in the 1840s. That's 20 octillion tons of gas (20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) it ejected at about a million miles per hour, in case you're not getting enough awesome in your diet.

I withdraw the objection. :-)

Re:Bad Astronomy? (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614021)

The Bad Astronomy site started out to debunk nutty astronomical theories, like the Electric Universe theory, or the preposterous notion that the moon landing was faked. It's a pretty decent site.

thanks (4, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613805)

Of course when astronomers say it's "about to explode," they really mean it probably exploded 6,500 to 7,500 years ago and we're awaiting the news.
 
could you clear up that 'sun rise' and 'sun set' thing for me as well?

Re:thanks (4, Funny)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613973)

Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.

I hope this clears up any further questions.

anywhere from today while i am typing to 10M yrs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614011)

Anyway since many observatories have to spend time looking at other crap .. I think we should have a telecope permanently aimed at Eta Carinae taking pictures in succesion (aka video).

Let's see .. we need about initially $40K ($25K for a phat telescope +computer, rest for the housing of it etc.)

Hmm actually make that ($40K x 4 = $160k) because I think we'll need eastern hemisphere coverage and there should be two sites in each hemisphere to reduce the chance of being screwed over by cloud cover.

Re:anywhere from today while i am typing to 10M yr (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614309)

And what do we do if the star just vanishes from view [amazon.com] in an instant?

Re:anywhere from today while i am typing to 10M yr (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614337)

Anyway since many observatories have to spend time looking at other crap .. I think we should have a telecope permanently aimed at Eta Carinae taking pictures in succesion (aka video). Let's see .. we need about initially $40K ($25K for a phat telescope +computer, rest for the housing of it etc.) Hmm actually make that ($40K x 4 = $160k) because I think we'll need eastern hemisphere coverage and there should be two sites in each hemisphere to reduce the chance of being screwed over by cloud cover.
If you're thinking to try to get a bunch of astronomy geeks to dedicate the lens, camera, and computers to this project, why post AC?

Re:thanks (5, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614129)

Of course when astronomers say it's "about to explode," they really mean it probably exploded 6,500 to 7,500 years ago and we're awaiting the news.
could you clear up that 'sun rise' and 'sun set' thing for me as well?
How about this: even though this expected supernova happened thousands of years ago, for all causal purposes, it won't have any effect upon us until we can see it. After all, the speed of light is really just the speed of causality.

So, in a local causal sense, it hasn't happened yet. The distance just means that if we thought to have any influence on it before it happens here, we'd have to have done something thousands of years ago or longer to exert a causal influence.

Re:thanks (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614219)

What happens if Schroedinger's Cat is is a box between the earth and this supernova and could be destroyed by the radiation wave?

On a side note for all those young earth creationists out there, perhaps the event that will destroy the world has already happened x thousand light years away at the exact moment of creation and we just haven't figured it out yet!

Don't hold your breath (2, Insightful)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613809)

We could be waiting to see this supernova theoretically about as long as the pyramids have been standing over the sands of Egypt.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

ozzee (612196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613933)

We could be waiting to see this supernova theoretically about as long as the pyramids have been standing over the sands of Egypt.

If that is the case, Eta C. should already have gone supernova. We just can't see it yet.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614243)

If that is the case, Eta C. should already have gone supernova. We just can't see it yet.

Which is an interesting statement, really, since it presupposes some sort of universal timeline on which it has "already" gone supernova. When in fact, there is no universal synchronicity.

Re:Don't hold your breath (2, Funny)

ozzee (612196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614339)

Which is an interesting statement, really, since it presupposes some sort of universal timeline on which it has "already" gone supernova. When in fact, there is no universal synchronicity.

Does that mean that cat I ran over last night in my car was not necessarily born yet so I didn't really run over it ? Phew, I was having a bit of a guilt trip....

Re:Don't hold your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614603)

No, causality is always maintained. The speed of light represents the *boundaries* of the time-scale, but not necessarily the scale itself. You can always say if two events are time-like or space-like separated.

Re:Don't hold your breath (5, Informative)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614393)

Argh, I was going to moderate this thread, but when I saw this post I felt I should reply instead.

Eta C surely has gone supernova already. General relativity tells us that the passage of time depends on your movements in space, but it doesn't forbit the presence of some 'special' reference frame in which one can consistently give an age on events that happen in the universe. That special reference frame would be the one based on the center of the universe - in effect, the center of mass frame. But even without such a special frame, we can certainly give a precise timeline between any two events no matter how separated they are or how they move. General relativity allows the exact calculation, it just won't be a constant timeline with time moving at the same rate for all observers.

For the case of Eta C, it is located at a distance of 7500 lightyears away, so the light we see from it now left Eta C 7500 years ago. Since we will surely see it go supernova sometime within the next 1000 years, there is no doubt at all that Eta C went supernova sometime between 6500 and 7500 years ago. General relativity doesn't even come into it, it is already clear just from the finite velocity of light.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614657)

How do you know Eta Carinae went supernova during that specific time? We're seeing as it existed 7500 years ago. We're not sure, from what we can see with our eyes right now, that it doesn't depict a supernova 10,000 years from exploding. If that's true, then we'll see the supernova 17,500 years from now.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614729)

There is no "center of the universe" or "center of mass of the universe", but there is still a "special" reference frame: the one in which the universe is isotropic (ignoring small anisotropies): it's the one in which the cosmic background radiation would not be blue/redshifted in opposite directions.

That being said, general relativity is largely irrelevant on non-cosmological scales for these purposes.

Gamma Rays (3, Funny)

turgid (580780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613819)

So, do I need to build a lead-lined concrete bunker in my garden?

Re:Gamma Rays (3, Informative)

kungfoofairy (992473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613937)

According to TFA, it's tilted 40 degrees away from us so we won't get hit.

Re:Gamma Rays (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613969)

According to TFA, it's tilted 40 degrees away from us so we won't get hit.

I don't understand that. Aren't stars more or less spherical? Or is this some kind of vindication for the radial explosion added to the death star in the remake?

Re:Gamma Rays (3, Informative)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614051)

Stars rotate on an axis. I'm not an astrophysicist, but I'd assume that most of the radiation and gasses would go either in the direction of the axis or in the plane perpendicular to it. I mean, there is a *huge* amount of angular momentum that has to be preserved when you consider mass and the speed of rotation.

So yea, kinda like the death star explosion in the remake. Or maybe perpendicular to that. Once again, not an astrophysicist.

Re:Gamma Rays (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614491)

Eta Carinae shot first?

Re:Gamma Rays (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614057)

I'm no astrophysicist, but from what I understand, because of the magnetic fields most of the dangerous crap exits from the poles.

Re:Gamma Rays (5, Informative)

kenaaker (774785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614087)

The lobes in the picture show the path followed by the material from previous outbursts. That material is guided by the magnetic field around the star, to the axis of rotation of the magnetic field, which generally lines up with the axis of rotation of the star. Because of the angular momentum of the star, it should maintain that orientation and any new outbursts should go in the same direction as the previous burst.

Re:Gamma Rays (2, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614187)

but it is funny how astonomers say the explosion will "probably" go along the axis of rotation as the previous 19th century "belch" did (see wikipedia or nasa's web page). If "probably" is true, then things outside our atmosphere get fried, like sattelites, astrounauts on missions, etc. No big deal. But suppose that thing blows spherically, then the gamma dose will be many times greater and you'll be wanting a lead jock strap if you're male.

Re:Gamma Rays (5, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614605)

There are several forces that direct the outflow of an explosion. In this case, it's the rotation of the star coupled with its magnetic fields. When the core collapses, it forms a black hole. The inner parts of the star collapse down too, forming a flattened disk around the BH. The disk rotates quickly, and has ferocious magnetic fields. It's also incredibly hot. This forces material outward, along the poles of the disk. Two beams of energy and matter erupt out, forming what we call a gamma-ray burst. We're pretty sure this will be along the same axis as those two lobes which blew out in the 1800s. So they'll miss us. If the star explodes as a regular old supernova, it's too far away to do any damage; they have to be withing about 100 light years to harm us. I have references for all this, but I won't list them here. I'm writing a chapter in my next book about it... :-)

MOD PARENT UP - Author of TFA, smart guy (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614687)

I don't normally MPU, but I'm out of mod points, and the above post is kinda buried-- and kinda informative.

Re:Gamma Rays (2, Informative)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614153)

Note that the lobes appear to be tilted away from us by about 40 degrees or so. That's a good thing. When stars like Eta Carinae explode, they tend to shoot of beams of energy and matter that, at its distance of 7500 light years, could kill every living thing on Earth. But since it's pointed away from us, all we'll get is a spectacular light show.
Matter won't get here for quite a while, but the X-Rays, etc. will get here at the same time as the pretty light. For the energy to be enough to kill us at 7500 light years, and the inverse square law to be in effect, that means the energy density at the star's surface would be ... hmmm ... fairly large.

Re:Gamma Rays (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614215)

For the energy to be enough to kill us at 7500 light years, and the inverse square law to be in effect

That's kind of the point: the inverse square law isn't in effect, because the energy isn't radiated in all directions. This star is of a type that, when it goes nova, tends to emit its energy in a couple of highly directional beams.

Re:Gamma Rays (4, Informative)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614399)

There is good reason to believe that eta carniae will emit a powerfull gamma ray burst when it collapses. Since the axis of rotation is not pointed anywhere near us, we are at no risk from the gamma beam. It is also possible that it is massive enough to suffer a pair creation supernovae. A recent supernovae of this type in a presumed LBV (luminus blue variable) was ~ 100 X brighter than most core collapse supernovae. Regardless, it is to far away from us to create any type of radiation hazard or even cause problems with perturbing the day - night balance.

Re:Gamma Rays (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614435)

But the inverse square law still applies, because the beams still spread out with a diameter that is proportional to distance. This applies even to the best focused laser beams; although then the spreading of the beam is very small, it is not zero and the energy density still follows the inverse square law.

Re:Gamma Rays (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614501)

The inverse square law is always in effect. Lasers dissipate over distance just like sunlight - you can focus a laser down to a tight beam, but it still covers some number of microsteradians of spherical angle. So the area covered will increase as the square of the distance, so the energy per unit area goes as the inverse square.

Re:Gamma Rays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614083)

What's the 'kill zone' for a nova pointed at you? I thought I remembered hearing 10,000 light years someplace, but I can't recall for sure. Any Astro guys out there know?

Re:Gamma Rays (4, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613983)

So, do I need to build a lead-lined concrete bunker in my garden?

You don't have a lead-lined bunker in your garden already? You must be new around here.

Re:Gamma Rays (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614359)

Yup, be sure to build it right under your pyramid and keep wearing that armadillo hat and asbestos underwear... :)

Relative Time (2, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613845)

Apparently da4 discovered some new non-relative timescale that's consistent throughout the universe without respect to position or velocity. That seems much more noteworthy than this supernova thing.

Re:Relative Time (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613939)

i was thinking the same thing, but actually kdawson added that little tidbit, not d4a :)

Re:Relative Time (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614013)

My apologizes to d4a.

Re:Relative Time (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614147)

Hm. If such a thing is constant then that star blew up years ago. It's seven thousand years away after all.

Re:Relative Time (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614505)

Apparently da4 discovered some new non-relative timescale that's consistent throughout the universe without respect to position or velocity.

It's an interesting point that an entity in a different frame of reference would not have quite the same ideas about space-time coordinates of this supernova happen but when you're reading an article written on earth for an entirely earth-based audience then it's pretty clear that the article is using space-time coordinates relative to the earth's frame of reference.

Also, aside from gravitational effects, how is space-time dependent on position?

Re:Relative Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614551)

... But that's not the same as Eta Car's frame. An expression like "it happened 7,500 years ago there" is very poorly defined. We travel on a number of acceleration vectors, our own spin, orbit around the sun, orbit around the galactic core, while Eta Car differs on all of those.

Even in special relativity those effects are important

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativity_of_simulta neity [wikipedia.org]

Re:Relative Time (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614523)

I wouldn't give him much credit for the discovery. The timescale doesn't need to be consistent throughout the universe, just between Earth and Eta C. And that is no problem - it is precisely analogous to communication over a slow medium (say, a war zone where your only communication from the frontline is a runner that takes half an hour to travel the distance. If you get a note saying "help, we are going to be annihilated in 10 minutes", then you don't need to use general relativity to figure that that they died already 20 minutes ago). Unless Eta C is moving at a huge velocity relative to us (ie. something close to the speed of light), the relative motion is not important. Even if Eta C WAS moving at a huge velocity, then it would still be possible to calculate the timeline accurately, you just need to be more careful about it - and it will be a slightly different timeline for a different observer.

Ummm... (5, Funny)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613847)

All I can say is, if you see Al Gore, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky wearing robes and riding camels... run like hell.

Re:Ummm... (3, Funny)

rossz (67331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614327)

That was funny. If I had any moderation points left I would have given you one.

Re:Ummm... (1)

EricTheGreen (223110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614471)

Shouldn't we do that anyway, supernova or not?

When will it explode? (4, Funny)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613851)

they really mean it probably exploded 6,500 to 7,500 years ago and we're awaiting the news.
When?
Now.
Now?
Now.
I can't
Why?
We missed it.
When?
Just now.
When will then be now?
Soon!

Re:When will it explode? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614379)

You missed 'now now' and 'now then', but you already scored 10 bonus points for the use of 'just now'. :)

Define "soon" (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613899)

As in we'll get to see the bang in a year? A decade? A Century?

A hundred years is a blink of the eye to the universe.

Re:Define "soon" (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613919)

A hundred years is a blink of the eye to the universe.

Yes, you're getting it now.

Re:Define "soon" (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614183)

...blink of the eye to the universe.

And humans are... eye crust?
Bummer.

Re:Define "soon" (1)

Spudtrooper (1073512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614487)

Now you tell me. I've been sitting outside with my shoebox pinhole camera for like 2 hours!

Neutron emissions (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613903)

IIRC, one of the ways that life could be wiped out on this planet is if a nearby star goes supernova and bakes us with the neutron output.

Obviously, this isn't the case with this star or people would be emptying their IRAs and going to Rio - but I have to wonder. Will there be any impact here on Earth from the explosion?

Re:Neutron emissions (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614159)

Will there be any impact here on Earth from the explosion?

Doubtful. Stars contain little or no solid matter, and the likelihood of a cosmic cueball (planet chunks, anyone? let's hope it's not kryptonite, I'd rather "kryp" tomorrow) coming our way is roughly zero.

Perhaps you meant "effect" rather than "impact". In that case, yes. We will recieve a tiny slice of its output of visible-spectrum radiation, an infintesimally small amount of "harmful" radiation, and some good scientific fodder. Oh, and if Hubble's still up, some awesome desktop pictures.

Re:Neutron emissions (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614161)

I don't think it's the neutron output, rather it's the energetic gamma rays that do you in. Maybe your shield's flux capacitor needs to have its polarity reversed.

Re:Neutron emissions (2, Interesting)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614195)

Note that the lobes appear to be tilted away from us by about 40 degrees or so. That's a good thing. When stars like Eta Carinae explode, they tend to shoot of beams of energy and matter that, at its distance of 7500 light years, could kill every living thing on Earth. But since it's pointed away from us, all we'll get is a spectacular light show.
It could potentially wipe out life on Earth, but its pointed in the wrong direction...hopefully.

If we detected it today. . . (1, Interesting)

Platupous (316849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19613923)

What would be the repercussions for earth? Since the lobes are pointed away, we don't seem to be in danger, but surely there would be some effects, what exactly would they be? (Besides "Good show"!)

What if the lobes were pointed this way, what exactly could we expect? (Besides "Bad!")

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614023)

How thinned out would the lobes be? Probably nothing major by the time it got here? Assuming it spreads out to infinity in all directions. I would think that our magnetic field could handle it by the time it got here. Just a guess of course, perhaps someone can chime in with some knowledge.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614049)

what exactly could we expect?

Half the face of the earth being wiped off the face of the earth, followed by the survivors banding together and developing spaceships, stations, and moon bases for the purpose of defending the solar system and Earth from the debris that would arrive centuries later.

Ultimately, the plan will be successful thanks to a couple of genius school kids and a giant robot [wikipedia.org] .

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614077)

my guess is, if you need a telescope in space to see it, you'll be fine.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (2, Insightful)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614089)

A few nights of having a star in the night sky that is brighter than the moon, perhaps?

And lets not forget all the religious fanatics taking it as a sign, and panicking, and causing social unrest or upheaval around the globe.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614137)

Didn't that happen once in the dark ages: a major supernova had people thinking Christ had returned or Satan was reigning, or something?

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614317)

you're thinking of 1054, and yes, it would have been a seriously badass event to see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SN_1054 [wikipedia.org]

Re:If we detected it today. . . (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614407)

You may be thinking of SN 1006 [wikipedia.org] , the brightest supernova in recorded history. It was significantly brighter than Venus, though not as bright as the moon. It was bright enough to be easily seen during the day, and was bright enough to read by at night. This event was documented in Chinese, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Swiss, and even North Americans records, as one would expect of something so amazing. Yet it is conspicuously absent from any other European writings, and the common story (i.e. i can't coroborate at all, may be apocryphal) is that the Church and their "perfect unchanging universe" doctrine made it heresy to even acknowledge that the thing was even there.

Or, maybe you're thinking of SN 1054 [wikipedia.org] , which according to Wikipedia may have been described by Irish monastic monks, but was later corrupted into a story of the Antichrist.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614545)

causing social unrest or upheaval around the globe.

Just like they do when there's a comet - because as you know, our civilizaton collapses every time a comet flies by.

Oh wait, it doesn't. So I guess you're wrong.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

Attila (23211) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614721)

And lets not forget all the religious fanatics [...] panicking, and causing social unrest or upheaval around the globe
What? Just for a change, you mean?

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

pauljuno (998497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614115)

Did you see the series finale of the Sopranos? Yeah, kind of like that.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614389)

This just in...

NASA Bans All Mix Tapes Containing 'Journey' Songs
No Reason Given By Officials

Re:If we detected it today. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614241)

I think the main worry is the gamma rays creating NOx and stripping away our ozone layer, leaving us no protection from UV radiation.

Re:If we detected it today. . . (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614273)

I have read about this star before as well as other supernovas or stars that are likely to turn into supernovas soon. From what I remember, a supernova poses no threat unless the poles of the star are pointed towards us. It just makes a really bright "star" in the sky for a short amount of time. If one of the poles of the star is pointed at us, we get hit by a burst of gamma rays. The gamma rays destroy the ozone layer, and then the sun's UV kills large amounts of life on Earth.

Safety first - Keep those lobes pointed down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614039)

From the article:

> Note that the lobes appear to be tilted away from us by about 40 degrees or so. That's a good thing. When stars like Eta Carinae explode, they tend to shoot of beams of energy and matter that, at its distance of 7500 light years, could kill every living thing on Earth. But since it's pointed away from us, all we'll get is a spectacular light show. If you're keeping score at home, gamma-ray burst aimed at you = bad, pretty supernova with no accompanying high energy radiation = good.

Who new the universe was such a dangerous place? Time to move to a safer neighborhood.

Preview (1)

tygt (792974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614091)

Maybe we should be keeping our eyes open for a blast of tachyons [wikipedia.org] ahead of the light show ;)

I hope no one died. (3, Funny)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614095)

I just hope that any local civilizations had advanced far enough to escape that horrible fate.

At the rate we're going, what with news of Congress living up to their name (opposite of progress) with regard to exploration the exploration of Mars, we won't escape the fate of our solar system.

Re:I hope no one died. (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614127)

Eta Carinae is so large, it is almost too big to be a star. It has been blowing itself apart every now and then since it was born. I find it unlikely in the extreme that any life could have developed nearby. I doubt the system even has planets.

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614441)

I'm not sure, but I think that according to Star Control II that Eta Carinae did have planets, and at least some of them hosted alien life forms.

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

iHasaFlavour (1118257) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614445)

Gas giants are a possibility, since they can formn very rapidly

See the following

www.gps.caltech.edu/~gab/ge128/lectures/boss_jupit er.pdf

As to lifespan of these gas giants, I have no idea.

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614447)

Unless that type of life is unlike what we know as life, and arose in the energy the star was throwing off, perhaps feeding off of it, like green plants feed off energy our star throws off.

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

The Real Nem (793299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614177)

I'm not sure how fast this "force" thing moves, but no one seems to have felt a great disturbance in it yet...

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

toganet (176363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614253)

I just hope that any local civilizations had advanced far enough

As an antiteleologist, I take offense at this statement.

Re:I hope no one died. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19614515)

Don't you know that the blasts of gas are the last ditch attempt of an alien civilization to jet their entire solar system away from some EVEN WORSE catastrophe?

Re:I hope no one died. (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614653)

I just hope that any local civilizations had advanced far enough to escape that horrible fate.

Don't worry, the probability of other intelligent life in this galaxy is pretty much zero [wikipedia.org] .

At the rate we're going, what with news of Congress living up to their name (opposite of progress) with regard to exploration the exploration of Mars, we won't escape the fate of our solar system.

Several things to say about this:

1) Colonization of other planets in this solar system will NEVER happen. And I mean never. Because a) Environmentalist scientists will convince government to never allow the unique environments to be spoiled, b) once people get over their romantic notions of living on other planets, they will realize they are cold, ugly, radiation-infested, inhospitable rocks, and very few people will want to live there. Proof? How many people want to live in Antarctica? And Antarctica is an order of magnitude more hospitable.

2) The future of space colonies is very large cities floating in space. You can get earth-like gravity (via spinning0, earth-like green environments, and all the romanticism of "living in space". There is still the radiation problem, though.

3) If we do have space colonies, Congress *certainly* won't be the one to build them. It will be private people wanting to make a buck on tourism, and later mining, that will establish the permanent colonies.

4) People on Mars is a total waste of money. If we were dedicated (and killed the space shuttle), we could send 1,000 probes for what we waste on sending humans, and get far more science.

(I realize this post is a little aggressive on opinions, but I'm in a naivete-busting mood today. :D)

tinfoil will save ya (1)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614135)

time to go up the attic and find my trusted tinfoil hat [wikimedia.org]

How can it be "aimed" at us? (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614205)

If you're keeping score at home, gamma-ray burst aimed at you = bad

How can a burst be aimed at you? I thought that when a supernova occurred the explosion was all around?

Also if it is 7500 light years away...does that mean it could have already exploded...we just don't know it yet?

How fast are the gamma rays moving? (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614319)

If the explosion is 7500 light years away....Whose to say that the Gamma rays travel at that speed? Sure we may not see it for 7500 years after it happened, but the gamma rays might not catch up till 10,000 years.

Do gamma rays move at the speed of light?

Re:How fast are the gamma rays moving? (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614419)

Let me introduce you to a thing called the Internet. You can use it to look up facts and dispel ignorance. Well, I can use it that way, anyhow. Evidently you can't. Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_radiation [wikipedia.org]

In short, gamma radiation is light. Just very, very high frequency light.

A little late?? (1)

Berserker76 (555385) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614369)

..so Slashdot is reporting as news an event that happened an estimated 6,500 to 7,500 years ago. Would we file this under current??

Thanks Slashdot!

It's all Carter's fault (2, Funny)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614455)

"You know, you blow up one sun and suddenly everyone expects you to walk on water."

Real Soon Now (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614469)

Keep in mind that on a cosmolical scale, that could be within 10,000 years or so, a few nuclear wars and greenhouse disasters later. ;-)

The problem with suprnova's... (1)

cadu (876004) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614567)

...is that they disappear misteriously after a brief period.

Guuys.. anyoone?! (1)

nlitement (1098451) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614571)

Does this mean that we're gonna die soon?!?! :'(

How to figure out which star you are looking at? (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614611)

I know this is offtopic but hoping for some answer. How can I figure out which star I am looking at.
If I am here [google.com] looking South(a bit east) and can see a very bright star in the early evening way before all the others?

Are there a online version of a starmap where you can type in your location, date and the direction or something?

And the scream... (1)

Evil Attraction (150413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614617)

...of trillions of aliens can be heard approx. 7500 lightyears away. In all directions. Aaaaw.

--
So be it!

Seeing Eta Carinae for yourself (4, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19614619)

The southern hemisphere sky has lots of goodies that us northern types don't get to see, and the Eta Carinae region is one of them. The nebula is slightly larger than the Orion Nebula as seen from Earth, but slightly dimmer. To me it looks like a flower blooming in space. It is accompanied by zillions of other nebulae and star clusters.

The Milky Way through Centaurus and Carina is why astronomers often go to places like Australia for their vacations. I've taken a telescope to Costa Rica several times myself, and while the view isn't as good as it is in Australia, it's a lot less travel. The only thing we really miss out on from Costa Rica are the Magellanic Clouds, which look far better from New South Wales than they do from Guanacaste. The vague smudges down at the Tico horizon are detached pieces of the Milky Way in the Aussie country sky.

My first view of the Eta Carinae region was with binoculars from St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne. It's not something one quickly forgets.

...laura

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