WR-134 is a Wolf-Rayet star that’s some 8000 light years from earth. Tonight I was watching a History Channel presentation of The Universe series. It’s pretty good. They have several scientist and astronomers that take turns kibitzing about whatever the subject of that particular series is. The topic for discussion was “Death Stars.” Good old 21st Century scare tactics at it’s best. Wolf-Rayet starts are massive (over 20 solar masses) stars that burn themselves up rapidly. WR-134 is supposed to be tilted so when it dies it may initiate a gamma ray burst which is aimed directly at earth. Then we hear all the terrible things a gamma ray burst of this magnitude would do to the earth, like destroying the ozone layer, etc, mass extinction of all life, sound familiar? If it’s not comets, asteroids, then it’s gamma ray bursts.
I guess the thing that rankles me about all these scare tactics is that we are only hearing half of the facts here. Even if WF-134 blew up today we wouldn’t have to worry about it in thousands of lifetimes because the star is 8000 light years away! This means to the distance challenged it would take the gamma ray photons from this star 8000 years to get here traveling at the speed of light! Gamma ray photons are very energetic little sub atomic particles that can really foul up the human genome. Yeah they are something we as humans don’t want to get around. But if something like a gamma ray burst (GRB) happens there’s nothing we can do about it anyway. Who cares right now anyhow it won’t be here for 8000 years so what’s the big deal? 8000 light years is a long ways away. There’s lots of space, lots of dark matter, and dark energy between us and WF-134. All this might foul up a GRB along the way anyhow.
Then the next thing was rogue stars. Stars such as binary systems that get pulled into a black hole and one gets pulled in and the companion gets rudely slung out at relativistic velocities and flies through the universe or our galaxy. Some don’t go fast enough to leave the galactic gravitational boundary. Others called hyper velocity objects do. So what are the chances of the earth getting smacked by one of these rogue stars? Well I’m no scientist but it doesn’t take one to see the nonsense in this scenario. If these objects were common place enough to be a legitimate concern then we’d be hearing about them all the time.
Then the next doom and gloom deal was two neutron stars encircling each other and colliding. When this happens evidently a short duration GRB takes place that’s very high in energy levels. So if it hit the earth same deal. Never mind that it takes on the order of 10s of billions of years for the stars to get close enough to collide in the first place. These shows like this clip off this part of the information process only giving the viewer what they consider to be worthy of interest. It’s a real half-assed way of presenting the facts. It is insulting besides because the History channel is just assuming that all of us are a bunch of beer swilling couch potatoes that don’t have a clue about the stars in the sky. I see a very distinct effort on the part of programs of this nature focusing on the doomsday scenarios. Probably to get people worried and stirred up so anything they can half-ass sling together will get people’s attention and hence increase their viewing. You have some of these scientists mouthing the rapidly wearing out buzz phrase “it’s not a question of if but of when.” Dun da dun dun. How many times have you heard this crap by now? I’ve heard it from things about how Yellowstone is gonna blow up again, how California is gonna fall into the Pacific, how the earth will be struck by another “EVO” (extinction event object). “The earth will be hit by another large asteroid, it’s not a question of if but of when.” Well so be it. We can’t do a damn thing about it anyway. Boy some of the proposed solutions I’ve heard should be on a History channel “Crack Pots of the 21st Century ” series. Jeez, spray painting one side of an asteroid so the solar radiation pushes it slowly out-of-the-way. I don’t think there’s enough Krylon spray paint at Home Depot for that idea. I also liked the idea of strapping a rocket motor to one and using it to push it out-of-the-way. How long does this rocket motor have to burn? Rocket motors aren’t noted for their duration events, just their total outputs which tend to make them of short duration. Try pushing a mile wide asteroid that has lots of angular momentum going for it with a rocket from earth? I dont’ think so. Something that size and speed has a fair amount of momentum to it and its gonna take more than a rocket motor booster to get its attention. Who thinks up this crap anyway?
This is all just my opinion on some of this stuff. Remember the hippie phrase “question authority”? Well let’s continue to question things that are beyond normal common sense ok? Some of the things I stated are factual. A light year is the distance light will travel in one year. It’s a distance yardstick for the spaces between things in the universe. It’s not a time scale. Although in the WF-134 scenario it might as well be. Light speed is the Universal speed limit. Nothing goes faster than the speed of light period. We’ve proved this and Albert was right. I’ve heard that two objects such as two high-speed neutrinos approaching each other at the speed of light are actually exceeding the speed of light but it’s relative to each other. That’s the key here. Relative. Don’t take my word for it listen to Dr. Pamela Gay on her free podcasts explain the subject of it. So with that said, if WF-134 is indeed 8000 L Y away it will take 8000 years for the first gamma ray photon to reach the earth, assuming that it’s traveling at the speed of light. Even if it were only 200 LY away we’d all be dead when it got here anyway. It won’t happen in our lifetime, or your kids kids kids lifetimes.
Okay I guess that’s enough for this time, I made my point. Please dear readers don’t buy into all the BS you see on these supposedly prestigious science channels. If NOVA were putting it on I’d expect more truth in information. But I don’t like the way the History Channel presented some of its’ information. It was purposely off spun and important information was omitted for whatever reasons. Let the viewer beware.