2012 update: Earth 'to be wiped out' by supernova explosion

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Remember all those 2012 doomsday prophecies? And that guy who said the world will end in 2011?

Maybe they're right.

Scientists at Villanova University in Philadelphia have identified a star, called T Pyxidis, that is overdue for an explosive supernova that could strip away the Earth's ozone layer and kill us all.


Here's how the U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported it:

The star, called T Pyxidis, is set to self-destruct in an explosion called a supernova with the force of 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT. Although the star is thought to be around 3,260 light-years away—a fairly short distance in galactic terms—the blast from the thermonuclear explosion could strip away the Earth's ozone layer, the scientists said. ... It will become as bright as all the other stars in the galaxy put together, they said. The Hubble space telescope has photographed the star preparing for its big bang with a series of smaller blasts or "burps," called novas.

These explosions came regularly about every 20 years from 1890—but stopped after 1967.

That means the supernova is about 20 years overdue.

Now, we're not quite sure the Telegraph has its science quite right: Supernovas aren't really thermonuclear, nor have we ever heard of their force being equated with megatons of TNT. Also, not sure that a supernova several thousands of light-years away would have any effect on our ozone layer, which in any case seems to be disappearing quite nicely on its own, with our help. Can any of you shed light on this?

But just in case they are right about this, I guess it's time to hang on to your butts!

For the latest sci-fi news, follow us on Twitter at @scifiwire