What Does It Happen?

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There is nothing like that a few light years away, but there are other effects; it gives off high energy radiation, similar to a solar flare, except on a larger scale and that can hurt us. It turns out when you do that calculation, it’s a little more difficult, but is probably a hundred to several hundred light-years away. Del: Which is scary, I mean, think about the fact that you can have one star, hundreds of light-years away, you know, it’s been a bright star in the sky and then suddenly, boom it goes off and although you don’t cook, you receive a dose of radiation enough to sterilize your planet and to wipe away your ozone later and set you back to the stone age. Dr. Plait: Yeah, that’s roughly a quadrillion miles, you know, it’s this million, billion, trillion quadrillion, it’s a long way off. It’s amazing to think that it could blast off enough gamma rays to change the chemistry of our atmosphere; this high energy radiation can actually hit the nitrogen in our atmosphere and turn in to smog. That’s incredible and when you think about it, for 100 light years away, there are order of magnitude, roughly one hundred thousand stars that close, or something like that. That number is probably off by a little bit, but you know, it 's a lot. The question is, how many stars can explode that are that close and actually, again, for the book, I compiled a list of the nearest stars that can go super nova and the nearest one is really Spica, which is a bright blue start in Virgo and its actually a star that Mars is near right now. You probably saw it during the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago. The moon was right next to it. That is actually 250 or so light years away, so it 's actually just sort of one the edge of what can hu... ... middle of paper ... ... big. Black holes are tiny compared to an actual star, and the only star model I have is a ping pong ball and the black hole is bigger so, I won 't use that and confuse people. But, if the black hole was orbiting a star, it can syphon material off that and as that material falls into the black hole, it gets very hot. When you take a lot of gas and heat it up, it gets bright. So, before it falls into the black hole, it gets tremendously bright and you can detect that. SO, that is how we have actually seen all of these black holes that we have seen. We are not seeing them, we are seeing the junk falling into them or there a different kind of black holes. There are the kinds that form when stars blow up that have three, ten, fifty times the mass of the sun, but then there are these super massive ones which have millions or billions of times the mass of the sun in

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