04 February 2011

Supernova, Second Sun

Picture of the star Betelgeuse found here
I had a fantastic dream last night, and by fantastic I mean more illuminating and fantastical than necessarily one that left me with the warm fuzzies. I had planned on writing a summary and quick analysis of that, since my subconscious is always fascinating (at least to me), but then I came across a short news article that wiped the dream entry away. I can save the products of my subconscious for another day; this little tidbit takes precedence.

So. Time for a little introduction on why I think this is so interesting and so important.

At this point, pretty much everyone has heard one thing or another about the bazillion end-times theories surrounding 2012, from the rapture to comets to the Maya predictions to zombie apocalypse. I believe that anything is possible, and there’s really no way to prepare for an apocalypse, but some of the theories people have cooked up over the years are pretty entertaining, if not necessarily valid. Whether the world ends, changes, grows, or stays exactly the same, all we can really do is try to keep living. However, sometimes I wonder if a great-change really is in the works. With climate change becoming ever more apparent (it amazes me that some people still try to claim that the scientific community hasn’t proved anything in that department. Like, really? When was the last scientific journal YOU read? Because all the peer-reviewed ones I’ve encountered are pretty clear about a few things, namely that oh yeah, the world climate is changing and temperatures are getting more extreme), and with the gross increase in intrastate conflict throughout the world (particularly in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia), not to mention the rise in volcanic and other seismic activity (although since studies on supervolcanoes have only been conducted in the last 100 years or so, the results are somewhat inconclusive because we have no idea what would constitute normal versus increased activity), and then, of course, the potential for another magnetic pole shift (and we have absolutely no idea what that would do to the technology grid since the internet did not, incidentally, exist during the last pole shift) and now there’s this bit about Earth getting a second sun.

Wait. Hold up. Second sun? you ask. Yes, a second sun, but it’s not really that simple. Apparently Betelgeuse, one of the brighter stars in our night sky (already a red giant), might go boom at any day now, and a physicist from Australia has predicted it to go supernova by 2012. Although, in all fairness, he qualifies that it could just as likely happen tomorrow, or next week, or in another 100 years, or not at all. Betelgeuse could just as likely turn into a black hole or a neutron star. We won’t know until it happens (or doesn’t happen), and given the speed of light and distances in the universe being you know, pretty far away, whatever we see will have actually happened something like 640 years ago.

If the star goes supernova, the explosion will produce so much energy that we’ll experience it as a second sun, lighting up the day and night sky for a few weeks, and then fading into nothing over the period of a few months. Possibly. Again, we really can’t know. Things like supernovas are such macro events that they’re nearly impossible to study with any conclusiveness. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. The full article I initially read, as well as one that goes into more detail about the scientist’s specific theory (he outlined his prediction in a lecture recently) are linked below:

“Two Suns? Twin Stars Could Be Visible From Earth By 2012,” Huffington Post
“Tatooine's twin suns - coming to a planet near you just as soon as Betelgeuse explodes,” news.com.au

As soon as I saw this article, I was reminded of a poem/song I wrote earlier this year. It’s posted under my lyrics & poetry page, and I also devoted an entry to it after I originally wrote it. What this two-sun phenomenon brought to mind specifically was the promise in the lines, “By the time the blood-sun rises, I’ll have stripped you of your crown.” This bit of lyrics was the product of my not really thinking, but just sitting down and writing what came to mind. Thus, I was never really aware of what I was writing, per se, I just wrote. I discuss this tendency of mine to not pay attention to what I’m actually writing about until it’s done, and then I read between the lines to figure out wtf was I thinking, usually to no avail, in the entry where I originally posted part of the song, which you can find here. Blood-sun. Second sun. It’s an interesting parallel, if not necessarily a connection. I am very, VERY curious to see how this Betelgeuse thing plays out, if it does at all. The year 2012 isn’t all that far away.

I generally don't put much stock in conspiracy theories, as fun as they are to read. However, I suppose it’s never too late to start stocking up on zombie-fighting gear.

No comments:

Post a Comment