Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gamma rays detected from a nova for the first time

"Astronomers using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected gamma rays from a nova for the first time, a finding that stunned observers and theorists alike. The discovery overturns the notion that nova explosions lack the power to emit such high-energy radiation.

"A nova is a sudden, short-lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star. The outburst occurs when a white dwarf in a binary system erupts in an enormous thermonuclear explosion."

In about 10 billion years or so, that is what will probably become of our star: it's not massive enough to become a black hole, so it's likely to die and become a white dwarf. Since we're not a binary system, I'm not sure it would expend its energy like this one detected.

A thermonuclear explosion about 1000 times what our current nuclear furnace 93 million miles away can emit! It wouldn't make a planet of "Incredible Hulks," but crispy critters of everything in the solar system.

Link: Fermi detects shocking surprise from supernova's little cousin

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