Tatooine's twin suns - coming to a planet near you just as soon as Betelgeuse explodes
* By Claire Connelly
* From: news.com.au
* January 19, 2011 12:12PM
IT'S the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans - staring forlornly off into the distance as twin suns sink into the horizon. Yet it's not just a figment of George Lucas's imagination - twin suns are real. And here's the big news - they could be coming to Earth.
Yes, any day now we see a second sun light up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks.
The infamous red super-giant star in Orion’s nebula - Betelgeuse - is predicted to go gangbusters and the impending super-nova may reach Earth before 2012, and when it does, all of our wildest Star Wars dreams will come true.
The second biggest star in the universe is losing mass, a typical indication that a gravitation collapse is occurring.
When that happens, we'll get our second sun, according to Dr Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland.
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“This old star is running out of fuel in its centre”, Dr Carter said.
“This fuel keeps Betelgeuse shining and supported. When this fuel runs out the star will literally collapse in upon itself and it will do so very quickly.”
When this happens a giant explosion will occur, tens of millions of times brighter than the sun. The bad news is, it could also happen in a million years. But who's counting? The important thing is, one day, night will become day for several weeks on Earth.
“This is the final hurrah for the star,” says Dr Carter.
“It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up - we’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”
The interwebs is being flooded with doomsday theories saying the impending supernova confirms the Mayan calendar’s prediction of the Armageddon in 2012.
These conspiracies aren’t helped by the word “Betelgeuse” being associated with the devil.
Though it is a derivation of the Arabic phrase “yad Al Jauza” meaning the “hand of Al-Jauza” referring to a mysterious woman that controls the order of the universe, it hasn’t stopped some people from clearing out their bunkers and stocking up on tinned food.
Far from being a sign of the apocalypse, according to Dr Carter the supernova will provide Earth with elements necessary for survival and continuity.
“When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called nuetrinos,” says Dr Carter.
“They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever.”