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Space Science

The Nearest Supernova Candidate To Earth: IK Pegasi 55

The Bad Astronomer writes "What's the nearest star to Earth that can explode as a supernova? Spica, at 260 light years away, is the nearest massive star that can explode, but IK Pegasi — a Sirius-like binary composed of a normal star and a white dwarf — will also one day blow. At a distance of 150 light years, it's truly the closest supernova candidate. Happily, that's too far away to damage the Earth when it goes off — and it won't explode for millions of years at least, by which time it'll be even farther away. Either way, we're safe... for now."
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The Nearest Supernova Candidate To Earth: IK Pegasi

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will it be, at least, pretty to look at?
  • by avgjoe62 ( 558860 ) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:15PM (#40044837)

    I'll have to go down to the local planning office in Alpha Centauri and see if they've got a permit for a supernova that close to the planned hyperspace bypass...

    • Beware of the leopard!
      • Don't be silly. The leopard is kept in the local Guilford planning office. The basement of the Alpha Centauri planning office is completely free from such annoyances. You can tell from the sign above the door: "This premises guaranteed to be leopard free. Please keep your eyes focused on this sign until you reach the teller and whatever you do do not look directly at the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal."
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:17PM (#40044877) Journal

    Wow! Thank Gawd for that! I mean, I can finally sleep at night again knowing we won't be roasted by a supernova. Truly that loomed the largest of all for me, right after the thought that my house sat on top of a supervolcano. How could I survive that? I'm not Pierce Brosnan after all.

    • by Genda ( 560240 )

      Actually the first one is not likely... however regarding the second... just today I read that the city of Naples is giving the green light to drill the first of what will ultimately be a 4,000 meter hydrothermal energy vent into the Campi Flegrei [nature.com] super volcano caldera just outside Naples. Scientists are worried about earthquakes and the remote possibility of precipitating an eruption. I find this far more sleep depriving than any thought of astronomical events. Oh and if you follow the story links, the onl

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday May 18, 2012 @03:24PM (#40044983)

    I thought Eta Carinae [wikipedia.org] was the one we were supposed to worry about. It blew off an outer layer in the 1800's. It's supermassive and it is due to go any moment now. In fact it may have already blown and we're just waiting for the news.

    And near can mean a few different things in space. Which would you prefer, being a foot away from a firecracker or a mile away from a nuclear bomb?

    • At 7500+ LY, we'll have a good view, but we don't need to worry about it going SN. Now, if it collapses into a black hole that happens to point a gamma ray jet directly at us, we might have something to worry about.

    • Which would you prefer, being a foot away from a firecracker or a mile away from a nuclear bomb?

      What kind of firecracker? I'm going with the nuke since my doctor says I should say away from salt... I should be safe in my bunker a mile underground, where the crackers are unsalted.

  • This is news?
  • So what? the nearest star that can explode as a supernova? What good will knowing that mean if it's millions of years away?

    The RIGHT question is:

      What's the closest star we can SEE with the naked EYE go supernova that has a reasonable chance of any of us slashdotters viewing in our lifetimes. That IS important as it matters to the average person who might just look up.

  • Children tend to play with toys in their crib first.. then with the ones in the neighbors backyard.

    Just say'in..

    But we're a habitually meddlesome species.. we can't see to leave well enough alone.

    While we're workin on the stellar engineering degree there's bound to be a few.. "whoopsies"

    • by JTW ( 11913 )

      Oh yeah.. just ask the Ganymedens about their project Icarus.. that ended well [ http://www.amazon.com/The-Gentle-Giants-Ganymede-2/dp/0345323270 ]

      A spaceship, a blackhole and alien refugees fleeing a dying sun.

      Just another day a the the beach 25 millions years long.

      • The Time Lords blew a few stars up too, as it was the only way to generate the extreme high-energy conditions needed for their early experiments in temporal manipulation. The team responsible for the research was sensible enough to conduct their experiments far from anywhere inhabited, though perhaps they should have destroyed their doomsday machine when they were finished with it rather than just leave it lying around for the Daleks to steal.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          They also lost one of their researchers, a Lord Omega in a black hole/alternate anti-matter universe. He's tried to destroy the universe at least twice. It's not as safe as it sounds, but at least they got some cool toys out of it.
  • I'd have to say that if this criteria is for a "supernova candidate", the nearest supernova candidate to us would be THE SUN. Because it's bound to go supernova one day, just like every other star in the universe.

    The next nearest supernova candidate would be proxima centauri. But it probably won't cause any damage to the Earth either, and probably isn't likely to go off for a few million years either.

    Damn, I should've been an astronomer - if this is all it takes to "make news".

    • And yes, I do know that not all stars go supernova. Folks, RTFA rather than relying on the summary. The summary should have been better written, and that's what I was aiming for - a little silliness, and a jab about the summary on /. being very unclear on a few points. :)

      • by bmo ( 77928 )

        Hendersj, realising he said something really dumb, tries to pull his fat out of the fire but burns his fingers, sets the sleeve of his Neanderthal rabbit-fur-coat alight, starts screaming, and then rolls around on the ground trying to put out the signs that he indeed did do something dumb.

        And then says "I meant to do that."


        • You don't do satire, do you?

          BMO, realizing that he wrote a reply to something without reading the follow-up post, tries to cover up his stupidity by saying something else that's stupid.

          Well, done.

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      I'd have to say that if this criteria is for a "supernova candidate", the nearest supernova candidate to us would be THE SUN. Because it's bound to go supernova one day,

      And you would be completely wrong in all respects.

      The size of the Sun makes it impossible to become a supernova. It will grow to a red giant, throw off gas, and shrink to a white dwarf. There will be no supernova.

      The next nearest supernova candidate would be proxima centauri.

      No, you would be wrong *again* since none of the Centauri stars

      • Did you bother to read my reply to myself? I indicated I understood it, that this was intended satirically.

        You fail at reading. Hard.

        • by bmo ( 77928 )

          Your first post in this thread was reminiscent of Sarah Palin ranting about fruit fly studies. In fact, the post you made is typical of the ignorati that infest American politics and rather dumb individuals everywhere.

          Your trying to cover up for it by saying it's a joke doesn't take away from the fact it wasn't funny in the first place, or from the fact that it reeked of deliberate ignorance as seen every goddamned day on Fox and other Rupert Murdoch properties.


          • That you didn't find it funny is fine. I don't post a lot on /., so I don't expect everyone to understand when I'm being funny. But no, I'm not trying to "cover up" that it was stupid. It was intended to be stupid, but I neglected to put sufficient context in there. I didn't take my audience into consideration (I usually write things like this to people who know me well enough to know when I'm being satirical or silly about something).

            I actually do have a bit of a background in astronomy, and I read Phi

            • by bmo ( 77928 )

              The thing about satire is that if you are too close to what you are satirizing, you may run afoul of Poe's Law.

              What you did was true to the Nathan Poe's original version of his law.

              http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law [rationalwiki.org]


              • Yup. That thought occurred to me after you "called me out". Not a lot of people are familiar with Poe's Law (though more are now).

                So something good comes out of my error. :)

  • Ok, I googled wr 104 and the latest opinion is that we're not looking down the barrel of a gun. Just wait until some new observation says we are, or we find out the hard way that we are.

  • by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Friday May 18, 2012 @05:15PM (#40046211)

    The issue isn't the physical damage from the expanding nebula but the intense energy (mostly gamma-ray) burst that happens when the star collapses. Basically anything within a few hundred light years gets hammered by a shotgun of energy if it's aligned with the poles of the star.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-ray_burst [wikipedia.org]

    http://f64.nsstc.nasa.gov/gbm/ [nasa.gov]
    More reading on our monitoring attempts, though anything that would hit us would be noticed pretty much about the time it hit us.

  • We don't have to worry about no stinkin' supernovae. Even at the speed of light those nasty gamma rays won't catch us, because by the time they get here we will be so, what's that word, oh yeah, extinct.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.