Turns Out Black Holes Might Actually Destroy The World From Light-Years Away

Imagine a beam of energy that traverses the cosmos and vaporizes everything in its path.

Although it may seem a little like science fiction, these energy beams are genuine and offer a serious, if remote, threat.

These beams, known as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), are so intense that they may fry everything in their path. These bursts emanate from black holes and travel perpendicular to the material disc that surrounds the black hole. When a star collapses or two neutron stars collide, a tremendous amount of energy is released, which manifests as a GRB.

The Earth's ozone layer generally shields life from the Sun's gamma rays, but a powerful GRB from inside our galaxy would obliterate the ozone layer and burn the side of the planet that was hit. Gamma rays are so powerful that they may shred DNA and atomic electrons apart. They also travel at the speed of light, so we would not know if one was coming our way until it was too late.

Now GRBs are rare, and for one to pose a significant threat, it would not only have to start in our Milky Way galaxy but also be traveling in our way. 

A0620-00, the nearest candidate black hole, is around 2,800 light-years distant. It is more probable that life on Earth will be extinguished by an asteroid strike or climate change than by a GRB.

Learn more in the video below:

Reference(s): Astronomy.com

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