While many doomsday scenarios involve large meteors or solar flares taking out the earth, there is actually something far more frightening lurking in space that could wipe out the earth instantly without warning. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are created by black holes and are one of the most powerful energy forms in the universe.
In fact, a single gamma-ray burst is the equivalent of taking all the stars within a hundred million light years and focusing it into a single laser beam that would destroy all it touched. These gamma-ray bursts are so strong that if one occurred even a thousand light years away from Earth, it could still destroy our entire planet without any prior warning signs.
The Daily Mail reports that gamma-ray bursts could kill off all complex life forms on our planet by instantly depleting our ozone layer. A GRB reportedly releases more energy in one second than the Sun will in its entire ten-billion-year lifetime creating one of the universe’s most powerful phenomena. These gamma ray bursts have been blamed for some of the most violent deaths in our solar system, with planets, stars, and surrounding celestial bodies within thousands of light years from the black hole creating the GRB being destroyed in an instant.
Gamma-ray bursts are believed to be the result of a supernova collapsing to form a black hole. During the collapse, the burst of gamma rays is sent in laser beam fashion throughout the universe, destroying everything in its path. Another short GRB is believed to be formed when two neutron stars merge.
“Long GRBs last about a minute, and scientist think they are produced by supernova: when the core of a massive star collapses to become a black hole. Short GRBs last a second, and are produced when two neutron stars in a binary merge.”
While GRBs are great destroyers of anything in their path, they fortunately only take place about once every million years in our solar system. For a GRB to take out life on Earth, the gamma-ray burst would need to be produced within a few hundred million light years from earth. Additionally, the burst would need to be pointed in earth’s general direction.
— The New Science (@NewScienceWrld) August 3, 2016
The chances of such an occurrence are slim; however, scientists would not be able to predict a GRB, and Earth’s end would come swiftly and without warning.
“If originating from a few thousand light years away, it would be a hundred light years wide by the time it reaches us, washing over the solar system like a tidal wave.”
In fact, some scientists believe that the Ordovician extinction 450 million years ago on Earth may have been the result of a gamma-ray burst hitting earth. If the GRB hit earth, the ozone would be depleted leaving all life on earth exposed completely to the sun’s deadly radiation. Eventually, the ozone would replenish itself but not before all complex forms of life were killed.
Death from space — gamma-ray bursts explained – https://t.co/9PjLqfXZht
— Artemio (@Artemio) August 2, 2016
During the Ordovician extinction, some 85 percent of all marine species were killed off. Scientists claim that this could have been the result of a GRB, but it would be impossible to prove as there would be no signs of the GRB left as the ozone would have replenished itself in a few years. Will a GRB spell the end of Earth and humanity? While it is possible, researchers say that chances are very small, as the likelihood of a GRB event taking place within a hundred thousand light years of Earth is small. Likewise, the chance of the GRB being directed in Earth’s direction is even smaller.
What do you think about the potential of a swift and unpredictable destruction of Earth by one of the most powerful forces in our universe?
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