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Need a fact check on the end of the world

  1. Jun 19, 2017 #1


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    I am collecting facts for an story featuring the end of the world. In this Story Betelgeuse is the culprit. I know currently its poles are not lined up with Earth so I need to describe an event that would alter its position so that when it goes, Earth is in the line of fire.

    Would a black hole passing near
    Betelgeuse work? Would such an event be difficult for Astronomers to detect until it was too late?

    If the poles were aligned with Earth and the start went off , when Earth was hit with the radiation burst, how long would it take to sterilize the planet and how long would it take for vegetation and animal life to recover?

    thanks for the help.
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  3. Jun 19, 2017 #2


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  4. Jun 20, 2017 #3


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    This is just an intuition, for what it's worth, but I find it hard to see how such an encounter (or any other process) could produce sufficient torque on what is essentially a rotating fluid sphere, with huge moment of inertia.
  5. Jun 20, 2017 #4


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    Ok good to know, so low in the believability department. I wanted something plausible, I didn't pick a random Super nova because I figured any star big enough to explode and yet be close enough to do us damage, we would know about it by now. I thought Betelgeuse might work because its close and could go off in the near future, but if its unlikely that anything can adjust its position, then I am back to the drawing board.
  6. Jun 20, 2017 #5

    stefan r

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    A collision can change rotation. But you do not need it.

    A supernova explodes in all directions. It is not perfectly spherical but close enough. Betelgeuse is likely to be a type IIP supernova.

    A white dwarf binary can collide with some other star. Or some binary can collide with a solitary white dwarf. One of the objects fly away and the white dwarf can pick up mass. One or two of the objects involved can be dim enough to be out of sight from earth. An old white dwarf can be fairly dim. When a white dwarf reaches 1.4 solar masses it explodes.

    The odds of a direct impact are quite low. You can probably get away with that in fiction.
  7. Jun 23, 2017 #6
    I think DHF wants a relativistic jet. A supernova at that distance may push the heliosphere back pretty far, but it's unlikely to eradicate the biosphere of Earth. Relativistic jets only come out of hypernovas that create black holes and Betelgeuse just doesn't seem big enough for that. According to Wikipedia: "Betelgeuse is not likely to produce a gamma-ray burst and is not close enough for its x-rays, ultraviolet radiation, or ejected material to cause significant effects on Earth." There is a more scientific source attached to that sentence.
  8. Jun 26, 2017 #7


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    Thank you, you are correct in that is what I was looking for, I need something that would cause extreme damage to the ozone layer. I am looking for a culprit for a mass extinction. I wanted to avoid asteroids because they seem the go to for all all end of the world plots.
  9. Jun 26, 2017 #8
    How about a government intervention for global warming based on bad science that actually damages the ozone layer instead? You could blame the bad science on budget cuts preventing adequate testing.
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