The Great Gravitar Attack of Ought Four. NEVER FORGET.

Anniversary of a cosmic blast

The sheer amount energy generated is difficult to comprehend. Although the crust probably shifted by only a centimeter, the incredible density and gravity made that a violent event well beyond anything we mere humans have experienced. The blast of energy surged away from the magnetar, out into the galaxy. In just a fifth of a second, the eruption gave off as much energy as the Sun does in a quarter of a million years.

Oh, and did I mention this magnetar is 50,000 light years away? No? That's 300 quadrillion miles away, about halfway across the freaking Milky Way galaxy itself!

And yet, even at that mind-crushing distance, it fried satellites and physically affected the Earth. It was so bright some satellites actually saw it reflected off the surface of the Moon! I'll note that a supernova, the explosion of an entire star, has a hard time producing any physical effect on the Earth if it's farther away than, say, 100 light years. Even a gamma-ray burst can only do any damage if it's closer than 8000 light years or so.

Tags: ,

12 Responses:

  1. d00d. Magnetars rule. Badassest thing EVER.

  2. carnivillain says:

    I have to be a pedant and weigh in with this fabulous insight: it ought to be "aught."

  3. carnivillain says:

    That is a mind-bendingly incomprehensible amount of energy.

  4. It reminds me of a galactic pineapple.

  5. whumpdotcom says:

    What does the Security Apparat plan to do to protect us from these horrors?

    "Stars with iron cores are not permitted to have items in their laps."

    • lionsphil says:

      Build a Faraday cage around the entire planet. Get the RIAA and MPAA on board by pointing out that we're currently making it really easy for aliens to pirate all that media we're transmitting as radio waves.

      Hey, it'd be easier than a Dyson sphere.

  6. amaranthyne says:

    I actually remember first seeing this in layman-science headlines (/.) a few months later, and being fascinated that almost as soon as Swift was up and running, it witnesses something of this magnitude. And although it's been explained to me that the effect of monitoring a system alters the results of that system only affects at a quantum level, and that the event in question took place millenia^n before we conceived of monitoring such frequencies, I mused on it at the time.

  7. pikuorguk says:

    How apt. I'm currently watching the (crap) remake of "Day of the Triffids". Don't look at the pretty lights in the sky!

    (really, this remake is bad. Do not torrent it US people... it's not worth the effort)