One of these two stars is a particularly unstable type known as a Wolf-Rayet. It also just so happens to be running on fumes. According to scientists, it is safe to say that it will inevitably go supernova.
How It Could Destroy Us:
When a Wolf-Rayet goes out, it goes out with a terrifyingly literal bang.
We've told you about gamma ray bursts, the galactic death rays the universe fires about like a drunken Texan every once in a while. Should one come our way, it would boil away our ozone layer and bombard our planet with lethal amounts of UV radiation. When a Wolf-Rayet goes supernova, we're in the direct path of its giant space death ray. Though it probably won't straight-up blast us to pieces, Death Star style. That would be too merciful: Instead, it would merely destroy up to half of our ozone layer, leaving us with mass extinctions and a broken food chain, all washed down with a nice torrent of acid rain and a side order of global cooling. Oh, and we'd also be pelted with cosmic rays, netting every living thing in the burst's path a hefty dose of radiation sickness.
So less getting Fantastic Four powers, and more feeling like you watched their movies.
"But why should we care what happens at some far-flung point in the distant, distant future?" you might think. "The star's still there, so clearly it hasn't gone supernova yet. If it's 8,000 light years away, we got at least 8,000 years left. No matter how much yoga I do, I won't live to be 8,000, so forget about it!"
Wow, you sound like a jerk. But you're also forgetting something: If a star is 8,000 light years away, what we see of it is already 8,000-year-old news. For all we know, WR 104 might have gone supernova 7,999 years and 364 days ago, and its death beam hits tomorrow. On the one hand, the odds of that are infinitesimally low, but on the other hand AHHHHH!
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World, And Why? Every summer, we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science-fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots, man vs. army of clones, and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent and comedians David Huntsberger, Adam Newman, and Caitlin Gill to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
For more ways we're probably doomed, check out 5 Ways The World Could End (You'd Never See Coming) and 7 Horrible Ways The Universe Can Destroy Us Without Warning.
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