Scientists at Villanova University in Philadelphia are reporting that a star a relatively close 3260 light years from the planet Earth is set to self-destruct in an explosion called a supernova that could strip away the planet’s ozone layer, potentially destroying much of life on Earth.
The “star,” T Pyxidis, is actually two stars, one of which is a white dwarf that is steadily growing. It could eventually reach critical mass and blow up, becoming as bright as all the other stars in the galaxy put together. The star has been flaring up with mini “novas” every 20 years since it was discovered in 1890, but stopped in 1967 and is now long overdue for one of these flare-ups.
Not so fast, says the science writer at the Dallas Examiner.
T Pyxidis is more than 3000 light years away. That’s close enough that even a type 1a supernova might affect the earth’s upper atmosphere, it could even damage the ozone layer on the side that happens to be facing the explosion when it arrives. But it’s not a ‘death star’ that’s going to ‘wipe out’ the earth. In the billions of years the earth has existed it has undoubtedly weathered many such events. The supernova could be a problem for farmers in the southern hemisphere and mess up relay satellites and communication networks for a few days, but that’s about it as best we know. And models suggest it might not happen for ten million years.
Ten million years? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me that this is an important part those Philadelphia scientists left out of their announcement, akin to saying, “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!” and not adding the part about “when we’re old and our bodies eventually give out.”