Richt, just when you lot thought it couldnea get any better here on earth, someit else is going on in the galaxy, so here's a wee wan fur ye to mull over an start saying yer prayers, it seems according to some yankee boffins, oor wee parade is aboot tae get seriously pished aon.
The Earth could be wiped out by the explosion of a star more than 3,000 light years away, according to US scientists.
The star, known as T Pyxidis, is about to self-destruct in an explosion called a supernova with the force of 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT. Aye ricth, that jist a wee fart in astronomical terms, so dinnae be to worrit.
The 3,000 light-year distance is considered a fairly short way in galactic terms and the blast from the thermonuclear explosion could strip away the Earth's ozone layer. Which is not good, apparently.
The doomsday scenario was described yesterday by astronomers from Villanova University, Philadelphia, US. Villanova? is that a pish take or what, trust the elmers haw haw
T Pyxidis is really two stars, a double, one is a wee white dwarf that is sucking in gas and steadily growing. When it reaches a critical mass it will blow itself to pieces. Timely reminder for the burger munchers tae cut doon the blubber intake.
The "experts" <coff > said the Hubble space telescope has photographed the star gearing up for it's big bang with a series of smaller blasts or "burps", called novas. These explosions came regularly about every 20 years from 1890 - but stopped after 1967.
So the next blast is over 40 years overdue. Oh nooo. Didnea ken the Hubble had been up that long an husnea been working right fur haulf the time it been up anywi.
Noo then, could this be the big one, squeaky bum time
Noo, no tae be too much o' a doom monger, jist wit did the Mayor o ' Hiroshima say?
OK thats the fun oot the way noo fur the meat an tatties.
Scientists at the American Astronomical Society's 215th meeting, in Washington DC, said earlier this week that new observations of T Pyxidis in the constellation Pyxis (the compass) using the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite, indicate the white dwarf is part of a close binary system with a sun, and the pair are 3,260 light-years from Earth and much closer than the previous estimate of 6,000 light-years.
The white dwarf in the T Pyxidis system is a recurrent nova, which means it undergoes nova (thermonuclear) eruptions around every 20 years. The most recent known events were in 1967, 1944, 1920, 1902, and 1890. These explosions are nova rather than supernova events, and do not destroy the star, and have no effect on Earth. The astronomers do not know why the there has been a longer than usual interval since the last nova eruption.
Astronomers believe the nova explosions are the result of an increase of mass as the dwarf siphons off hydrogen-rich gases from its stellar companion. When the mass reaches a certain limit a nova is triggered. It is unknown whether there is a net gain or loss of mass during the siphoning/explosion cycle, but if the mass does build up the so-called Chandrasekhar Limit could be reached, and the dwarf would then become a Type 1a supernova. In this event the dwarf would collapse and detonate a massive explosion resulting in its total destruction. This type of supernova releases 10 million times the energy of a nova.
Observations of the white dwarf during the nova eruptions suggest its mass is increasing, and pictures from the Hubble telescope of shells of material expelled during the previous explosions support the view. Models estimate the white dwarf's mass could reach the Chandrasekhar Limit in around 10 million years or less.
According to the scientists the supernova would result in gamma radiation with an energy equivalent to 1,000 solar flares simultaneously - enough to threaten Earth by production of nitrous oxides that would damage and perhaps destroy the ozone layer. The supernova would be as bright as all the other stars in the Milky Way put together. One of the astronomers, Dr Edward Sion, from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, said the supernova could occur "soon" on the timescales familiar to astronomers and geologists, but this is a long time in the future in human terms.
Astronomers think supernova explosions closer than 100 light years from Earth would be catastrophic, but the effects of events further away are unclear and would depend on how powerful the supernova is. The research team postulate it could be close enough and powerful enough to damage Earth, possibly severely, although other researchers, such as Professor Fillipenko of the Berkeley Astronomy Department, disagree with the calculations and believe the supernova, if it occurred, would be unlikely to damage the planet.