There are plenty of us who worry about everyday things like paying the bills or job security but in the big scheme of things these are all minor things when you compare them to the horrors that exist out there in space.
If you take a look out into space there is a good chance you will be totally horrified by some of the stuff you encounter. To make matters even worse most of the stuff out there is completely undetected so therefore there is no way for us to prepare or protect ourselves from the impending doom. So, exactly what are these terrifying things that are out there in space?
1 – Fast Moving Black Holes
Black holes are well known as those ridiculously large invisible killers floating around in space. You could ask a thousand people what they thought was the scariest of things in space and the majority of those asked would mention a black hole. These things are so scary and so dangerous not even light or time can escape their terrifying grasp.
Science categorises black holes by size. The largest are named supermassive and the smallest are appropriately named micros. Both of these types of black holes have unknown origins. It is only the intermediate sized holes which we know the origins of. These black holes form when a series of dying stars collapse in on themselves and merge together. The gravitational forces that are created when this happens are so great that time and space quite literally folds in on itself. The end result is that anything a hole which will suck in and destroy anything stupid enough to get to close. It is worth noting at this point that black holes don’t suck in everything that happens to surround them because their gravitational field do not reach that far beyond itself.
This is where we start to look at what is known as fast moving black holes. These black holes don’t just sit around in space waiting for you to get to close. These bad boys get up off their lazy ass and come looking for you.
When it was first discovered that certain black holes roamed around space it was thought to be a characteristic of only supermassive black holes. As it turns out fast moving black holes do a lot more than just wander around the universe at nine-hundred-million miles per hour. The speed that a black hole moves around is not actually the biggest danger and it is also true that these speedy holes don’t even have a greater reach than a normal black hole. The danger is that when these things collide with objects in space they change direction. This means that out there in space there could potentially be millions of these invisible galactic vacuum cleaners speeding around at nine-hundred-million miles per hour.
Take the time to consider what would happen if one of these huge fast moving holes hit something that sent it whizzing towards us. These things are many, many times bigger than the sun. In fact they are probably bigger than most of us could even imagine. If this were to ever happen there isn’t going to be an escape plan big or fast enough to get out danger.
2 – Rouge Planets
When it comes to how many planets are in our solar system it all boils down to which decade you happen to be living in. Most of us agree that there are either 8 or 9 planets in our solar system but that is only planets that play by the normal rules of physics and circle our sun.
There is such a thing known as rogue planets and these planets do not give a monkey’s hairy backside about you or playing by any rules. Unlike normal planets, rogue planets do not orbit anything. They simply roam through space randomly until something happens to get in their way.
Scientists believe that these rogue planets more than likely once orbited something such as a star or another planet but found some way of breaking free. Once on their own they are free to float about until they smash into something else or something else smashes in to it.
This is a pretty scary thought if you happen were to suddenly find that the Earth was on a collision course with one of these bad boys. What makes these rogue planets even scarier is the fact that it is estimated that there for every star in our galaxy there is at least two rogue planets. If that is not enough to raise your levels of concern it is worth you knowing that the majority of these rogue planet sized billiard balls are nearly all the size of Jupiter or larger.
Now that is a scary thought isn’t it? Now take a moment to let that sink in and do the maths behind it. This means there are around 200 billion Jupiter sized planets moving around our galaxy randomly doing whatever the hell they like. Is it just a matter of time before a Jupiter sized object comes whizzing through our own solar system? Even if it does not hit the Earth there is a very real chance it could hit another planet in our system and send that on a collision course with us.
Something the size of Jupiter would not have to come very close to us to pose a gigantic problem.
3 – Supermassive Black Holes
It is fair to say that supermassive black holes are well up towards the top of the list of the most potentially dangerous and destructive forces in the entire universe.
As we know a black hole is a huge hole in space with a mass so big that nothing can escape its gravitational pull. Not even space, time or light can escape if it gets to close. As you can probably guess from the name, a supermassive black hole is the big daddy of black holes. To give you an idea of the size we are talking here it is estimated that a supermassive black hole has a mass at least four-million times that of our sun.
With the technology that we currently have we can on not actually see a black hole even with the most powerful of telescopes. We detect their presence by observing a group of objects and their movements in a specific area. We can then calculate that depending on their path and their speed whether or not they are anywhere near a black hole.
According to those science people if you look at the centre of every galaxy in existence you will find a lot of stars and gas orbiting around at a very high velocity. Scientists say that this suggests each and every galaxy has at its centre a supermassive black hole, including our own Milky Way galaxy. Before you all begin to panic this is not a problem because we are far enough away not to be in any danger. Yet!
The problem with black holes is that they feed themselves on the gas that surrounds them. Like everything nothing goes on forever and one day the black hole at the centre of our universe will stop. What happens is that once a black hole has pulled in a certain amount of gas it creates a huge area of accretion around itself. This is when the hole is said to become what is known as an “active galactic nucleus,” or in simple terms it has become active. It is during this period that the “active galactic nucleus” becomes the primary generator of x-ray radiation in the galaxy it is located in. This strips the entire galaxy of all its star producing gas.
This process will eventually stop when the black hole has nothing left to feed itself on and basically shut itself down. The problem with all of this is that during the “active galactic nucleus” phase star production in the galaxy increases rapidly and is commonly known as starburst. Most of these stars are massive, many times larger than our sun, and end up becoming supernovas which wipe out whatever happens to be nearby. In simple terms what is happening here is a supermassive black hold goes about littering its own galaxy with gigantic explosives.
4 – Hypernova
A Hypernova is the same thing as a supernova only much bigger. A hypernova is created when a supermassive star reaches the end of its life and its core becomes so heavy it collapses in on itself creating a black hole. When this happens a huge amount of energy is released at an extremely quick rate. This sudden release of energy creates two jets of plasma that move at the speed of light emitting gamma radiation as it shoots through space.
An event like this really is as scary as it sounds but the good news is it can only occur in the very largest of stars in our galaxy. For this to happen a star must be classed as a hypergiant and be around one-hundred to three-hundred times the mass of our Sun. Star of this size are very rare so your average hypernova will only happen once every two hundred million years.
While the rarity of such events is extremely rare the bad news here is that the Earth has not experienced the effects of a hypernova in a very long time. This makes it long overdue an encounter anytime soon.
To make things even more alarming it is a real possibility that Eta Carinae, the nearest object to us with the capabilities of turning into a hypernova, may well explode at any given moment. What we can be thankful of is that Eta Carinae is so far away, around 7,500 light years away, it is unlikely to do any major damage to us. If it had been a little closer to our galactic neighbourhood we would have a real problem on our hands. The plasma jets created when it exploded would easily wipe out all life on Earth in a heartbeat.
To make you even more thankful that you live on Earth it is worth knowing that our solar system works like a very effective security guard keeping the huge hypergiants well away from us. Well, for now that is. The last experience the Earth possibly had with a hypernova may have been what is known as the Ordovician-Silurian extinction event. This event is considered to be the third largest extinction event in the history of the Earth.