T Pyxidis supernova to destroy Earth?


Crap, that's not good. (Antonio M. Rosario/The Image Bank/Getty Images)

I know it's hump day and all, so I hate to spread the bad news, but U.S. astronomers from Villanova University in Philadelphia are apparently saying they've spotted human civilization's destined destroyer via the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite. It's name is T Pyxidis, and it's a star set to explode in a supernova powerful enough to strip off Earth's ozone layer .

The news is coming from The Telegraph in a brief report on a meeting of the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington. I should stress, however, that we're talking about the Telegraph here -- a publication that truly loves a nice, fat sensational headline. So seriously, don't freak out till more info leaks out from the meeting. UPDATE 1: Scientific American and Space Daily have also jumped in with coverage.

T Pyxidis is a mere 3,260 light-years away, and the Hubble telescope has apparently observed the smaller blasts leading up to its eventual explosion -- which will burn as bright as "all the other stars in the galaxy."

But either way, this blast could be just around the corner (cosmically speaking) or ages and ages away -- and no matter what, it's not like there's a single thing we can do about it.

Let's just hope Michael Bay has time to make a movie about it (or do I have this part backwards?)

UPDATE 2: Discovery Space's Ian O'Neil (with help from Ray Villard) provides a closer look at the science and the hype surrounding T Pyxidis. You can read it at the Discovery News blogs (where I also post) right here. Essentially, T Pyxidis is too far away to cause any harm and won't be blowing up anytime soon. So rest easy.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.