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Wolf-Rayet 104 Has Us Locked in its Gunsights -- Are We in Danger of an Extinction Level GRB?

08/16/2014 11:03AM

Wolf-Rayet 104 Has Us Locked in its Gunsights -- Are We in Danger of an Extinction Level GRB?

Global warming and climatic changes caused by man's exploitation of our natural resources are child's play compared to what Wolf-Rayet 104 (WR 104) may have in store for us. WR 104 is now in the last known stable phase for a massive star of this type and is only about 8000 light years away. The problem is that its polar orientation appears to be "face-on" to Earth's line of sight. Essentially, we are staring down a gun barrel. If WR 104 collapses into a Supernova (as expected) and releases a Gamma Ray Burst (GRB), our Solar System could be in the direct path of a highly collimated jet of destruction. Such an event could end life as we know it. But will it happen in the next thousand years or in the next 500,000 years? Nobody knows... And nobody can do anything about it because the GRB and optical photons from the Supernova would arrive here simultaneously. Our only hope is that a few degrees one way or the other in the orientation of WR 104 could make all the difference in the world.


Comments:

In the mean time, in between time, ain't we got fun.
  • kirk [Mike Ford]
  • 09/24/2014 07:35AM
You know, we are overdue for another mass extinction!!! Maybe this is the one.<br><br>Mike


  • Gazer1 [Michael Maxim]
  • 08/17/2014 06:28AM
It is pointless to worry about this. Enjoy the exercise of logic.

Thanks for posting this rather interesting article. I am gratified to see the bringing together of several disparate academic fields to develop a new and multifaceted theory. By incorporating several branches of Physics (Astro, Bio); Climatology, ecological modeling, Paleontology, Oceanography, and Chemisty this research faces many more factual and logical constraints than that of any in one field of study. If a theory, so composed, survives such multidimensional scrutiny it would naturally have far greater explanatory power than a tortured-to-fit hypothesis formulated within the limits of a single academic discipline. Occam's razor still applies, but in aggregation, not in toto (Or should that be "Toto" due to the U. of Kansas involvement?). <img class='' src='http://new.astromart.com/astromart/javascripts/sceditor/emoticons/wink.png' alt='wink' title='wink'/> <br>
<br>Mark:<br><br>Yes - "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."<br><br>You bring up some very good points.<br><br>One of my favorite saying is "All of us together are smarter than any one of us alone."<br><br>This applies to teams of individuals working on everyday problems as well as multi-disciplined teams of scientists working on big theoretical ideas. Everyone brings a unique and valuable perspective to the table based on their background and experience.<br><br>Now, back to the news item.<br><br>I must apologize for deliberately over-hyping the title and introductory paragraph of this news item. I got all wrapped-up in the sensationalism surrounding this topic and I just couldn't resist.<br><br>My personal belief is that this particular star, WR 104, poses a ZERO threat of emitting a GRB that will strike Earth. Here is my thinking:<br><br>If everything in space was static over time, then yes, I'd be worried. But the reality is that our Solar System and WR 104 are swirling around in the Milky Way Galaxy and even though WR 104 appears to be pointing right at us at this moment, by the time it emits a GRB (and it will), it will be pointing somewhere else.<br><br>The GRB I'd be worried about is the one from a nearby star that we don't see coming. <br><br>Thanks,<br><br>Guy Pirro<br><br><br><br><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="italic"><i>Mark Miller said:</i><br><br>Thanks for posting this rather interesting article. I am gratified to see the bringing together of several disparate academic fields to develop a new and multifaceted theory. By incorporating several branches of Physics (Astro, Bio); Climatology, ecological modeling, Paleontology, Oceanography, and Chemisty this research faces many more factual and logical constraints than that of any in one field of study. If a theory, so composed, survives such multidimensional scrutiny it would naturally have far greater explanatory power than a tortured-to-fit hypothesis formulated within the limits of a single academic discipline. Occam's razor still applies, but in aggregation, not in toto (Or should that be "Toto" due to the U. of Kansas involvement?). <img class='' src='http://new.astromart.com/astromart/javascripts/sceditor/emoticons/wink.png' alt='wink' title='wink'/> <br></div></blockquote>

<blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="italic"><i>Mark Miller said:</i><br>I am gratified to see the bringing together of several disparate academic fields to develop a new and multifaceted theory. <br></div></blockquote><br>Yes! The NOVA/PBS documentary "Earth from Space" is especially informative in this regard, especially with regard to the intrinsically changing dynamic called "climate".


After reading this I pulled my foil hat down tight and with a stiff upper lip raised my fist at the starry skies. Is that all you got? Bring it on!