WR104 - death star

A spectacular rotating death star (with the unspectacular name of WR104) is preparing to explode at the end of its life, and scientists fear the earth will be exposed to deadly gamma rays in the wake of the explosion.

Even a short gamma-ray burst at supernova strength could zap away half the Earth's ozone layer, drastically increasing the amount of deadly space radiation that penetrates our atmosphere.

The good news: it may be hundreds of thousands of years before it blows, so we have plenty of time for planning. The bad news: we may not have yet figured out how many delegates have been awarded to Obama or Hillary.

WR 104 is about 8000 light years from here. The above is an animation made from 8 years of observations.

So, we are looking pretty close to right at its rotational pole. This could be exciting when this giant core of a star becomes a supernova. If we are lucky, it will merely form a fairly heavy neutron star. If, on the other hand it forms a stellar mass black hole, it might be a good time to have a deep underground bunker well stocked with canned goods.

Now, my untrained eye suggests that we are not right along the polar axis, and so we may not be in line for the main brunt of the powerful beam of radiation, but who can say... It is also the case that it might be 100,000 years before this star goes through its change of life, and by then we might be far off axis. In any case, it is currently a risk that in my opinion far exceeds to risk of asteroid impact.

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