News: July 2006 Archives

Thanks to James Nicoll for pointing out a fascinating paper explaining why factor 1,000,000 sunblock is inadequate when your star goes supernova, using a variety of concrete metaphors:

The energy flux would be roughly equivalent to having the entire earth's entire nuclear arsenal detonated a kilometre away, and would be sufficient to boil away the surface at hundreds of metres per second. Even on the temporarily protected night side, scattered light in the atmosphere and light reflected from interplanetary dust would far exceed normal sunlight, and radiation reflected from the moon would heat the earth to lethal temperatures if the moon were near full. ... We would expect the expanding atmosphere to propel a shock wave far into the night side of the planet and of course the air behind it would be at temperatures of thousands of degrees.
Luckily our particular star isn't going to go that way without some form of encouragement currently outwith the known laws of physics.



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