Will it ruin the neighborhood or save a lot of carbon permits?
Pictures are coming online of the brightest stellar explosion ever recorded. Supernova SN 2006gy used to be a star some 150 times the mass of our Sun, in a galaxy a quarter billion light-years away.
Its explosion was "so powerful that it may require a new type of mechanism
that's been predicted theoretically but never seen before ," says Nathan
Smith of UCal Berkeley of images obtained late last year — by optical telescopes and NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray
Observatory of a superova 100 times brighter than any seen before . The initial explanation was that it was an exploding white
for a white dwarf to shine so would require a surrounding cloud
of hydrogen generating x-rays about 1,000
times brighter than those the Chandra telescope
detected. Smith's UCal colleague David Pooley says :
....Is ETA CARINAE Too Close For Comfort ?
"We didn't think we'd see anything like this in the local
Universe," Instead of collapse into a black hole, the intensity of the light
emitted suggests an explosion hot enough for gamma ray protons to turn into electron-positron pairs, that annihilating each other blew the entire star away into space- no black hole or spinning neutron remnant remains. The abrupt pulse of
radiation energy overwhelmed the doomed star's gravity and blew upwards of 20 solar masses away and left behind a cloud spidery as the afterimage of a star shell detonated on the Fourth of July.
That means that SN 2006gy may provide a unique insight into how the Universe's first generation of stars met their end, says Mario Livio of NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute. Even before SN 2006 gy exploded, the star expelled a lot of mass - several Suns' worth, in an eruption like that now seen spewing from Eta Carinae, a massive star that is all too close to us , at 7,500 light years away in our own galaxy.
SN 2006gy raises fears that Eta Carinae could detonate in a similar way at any time — tomorrow or a millennium from now. If it does, you can expect to read the newspapers announcing Supernova Two Thousand Whatever by its own light in the middle of the night. Never mind the cosmic ray storm and fried satellites to follow- Jim Hansen's NASA Goddard cohorts should rejoice. That much starlight means we can turn off the streetlights for a month , and spare Gaia tons and tons of CO2 emission. It will also get rid of that pesky ozone hole- by temporarily destroying the O3 layer entirely. However , one weather proverb may survive in modified form: "Red Sky At Morning : Nitric Acid Rain Warning."