A star is a ubiquitous celestial body in the universe. It is a bright light and a source of heat in the universe. The star continuously radiates energy through internal nuclear fusion, bringing some light and warmth to the dark and cold universe.
Stars are also a very important celestial body in the evolution of the universe. 13.8 billion years ago, the newly born universe was not as colorful as it is now. At that time, there were only basic elements such as hydrogen and helium in the entire universe. Later stars were born, and nuclear fusion inside the stars can continuously convert hydrogen elements into heavy elements such as oxygen and iron.
When a star reaches its end, it will go through a different evolutionary process. In this process, more heavy elements will evolve, constantly enriching the element composition of the universe. It is with the birth of various elements that the later complex evolution of the universe, the birth of life and the emergence of human beings.
The star is the element processing factory of the universe, continuously transforming a large amount of hydrogen into various elements. And stars continue to burn themselves, illuminate and warm the universe, and bring life to the universe, but such a great star is also not eternal, and there will be a day when its life span will come to an end. And the larger the mass of the star, the shorter the life span, often only tens of millions of years.
The evolution of the universe is inseparable from massive stars, because these massive stars will quickly release their own energy at the end of life. Scientists call this supernova explosion. In this process, the evolution of the universe will evolve. Some heavy elements needed. These heavy elements can only be born when a supernova explodes.
Supernova explosions Some stars experience a violent explosion when they are approaching the end of their evolution. This explosion is extremely bright, and the electromagnetic radiation that bursts during the process can often illuminate the entire galaxy in which it is located. During this time, the energy radiated by supernovae is comparable to the total energy radiated by the sun in a lifetime.
Therefore, this is a very powerful and terrifying explosion of energy in the universe. Its influence is not only in the galaxy, but can also extend to very far distances, especially the impact on living planets.
There is a comparable galaxy 4 light years from the earth. This is a three-star system with three stars of varying masses. If there is a supernova explosion at this location, what will be the fate of the earth and mankind?
First of all, we must understand that not all stars can have a supernova explosion at the end of their lives. This violent energy explosion requires the quality of the star. Generally speaking, a supernova explosion occurs at the end of the evolution of massive stars. . And for a star with a mass like the Sun, even at the end of its evolution, the core collapses and the outer shell separates more gently, and there will be no supernova explosion.
After the life of a massive star comes to an end, its core collapses, and the huge pressure will cause a supernova to explode. The energy released in this process even exceeds the radiation energy of the entire sun during its entire life cycle. This is an extremely violent eruption process. The radiated energy can spread to the extreme depths of the universe. If there are living planets within this range, it will be a catastrophic crisis of destruction.
So how wide is the energy range of supernova explosion radiation? According to scientists’ estimates, supernova explosions within 100 light-years are likely to have a devastating effect on earth’s life. Some people might say, is the radiation energy of supernova explosions so powerful? If so, if a supernova occurs 4 light years away, isn’t the earth and human beings finished?
The supernova explosion itself is not terrible. The real terrible thing is that in the process of the explosion, gamma-ray bursts may be released. I believe that many of my friends have heard of gamma-ray bursts. This is the strongest explosion phenomenon in the known universe. It can release a huge amount of energy in a very short time and is indestructible wherever it goes.
If there is a planet obstructing the progress of the gamma-ray burst, it may directly vaporize the planet completely. The gamma-ray burst is the end of life. As long as there is life within its radiation range, it is basically difficult to escape the destiny of being terminated. Why are gamma-ray bursts the end of life? It turns out that it will promote the combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere to form nitrogen oxides and make life lose the protection of the ozone layer.
At the same time, high-energy gamma rays will directly reach the surface, destroy biological DNA, and ultimately lead to the end of life. How did the gamma-ray burst come about? The mainstream opinion in the scientific community believes that it comes from a supernova explosion. As long as a massive star has a supernova explosion at the end of its evolution, there is a high probability that a gamma-ray burst will be released.
The distance of 4 light-years is a very short distance in the universe. As long as a supernova explosion occurs within this range and is accompanied by a gamma-ray burst, the earth, a living planet, will basically bid farewell to this universe, millions of earths. Life will also come to an end. However, it is difficult to say whether mankind will end, mainly depending on the scientific and technological strength of mankind at that time.
If human beings are already a powerful interstellar civilization, it is still possible to escape the radiation range of supernovae. Of course, the Earth’s position in the Milky Way galaxy is still very lucky, and humans are also very lucky. According to the current observations of scientists, the masses of stars near the solar system are not large, even the brightest Sirius 8.6 light-years away from the Earth. Only about 2.2 times that of the earth.
Even if this mass reaches the end of evolution, it will eventually evolve into a white dwarf, and no supernova will occur. The Concord Galaxy, 4.2 light-years away from the Earth, has three stars, but the largest star A is only slightly larger than the sun, and supernova explosions are unlikely to occur. At present, most of the massive stars that are most likely to have supernova explosions are basically 160 light-years away.
In spite of this, the earth is not to sit back and relax. It is necessary to know that humans’ current observation capabilities are still limited. It is still unknown how many massive stars within a hundred light-years of the solar system have not been discovered by our observations. Even if it is a massive star 160 light-years away, once a supernova occurs, there is no guarantee that it will not bring a crisis to the earth.
It should be known that the energy level of gamma-ray bursts also has a big gap, and the radiation range of small gamma-ray bursts is relatively small. But if it is some large-scale gamma-ray bursts, the energy level will be very high, and the radiation range will be farther, possibly far more than 160 light-years. Scientists once believed that some gamma-ray bursts may radiate thousands of light years away.
Scientists also speculate that several of the mass extinction events that have occurred in the history of the earth may be related to gamma-ray bursts. Regardless, in the face of a supernova explosion, all humans can do is leave the solar system before it arrives and run outside the radiation range. To run past the gamma-ray burst, we need the ability to navigate between stars.
Therefore, we should not be proud of the current technology of mankind. Standing in the starry sky of the universe, mankind is actually very weak. Any disaster from the universe may completely end human civilization. If we want to control our own destiny, we need to continue to work hard to develop science and technology until we become a powerful interstellar civilization. At that time, the universe is so big that we can travel.