End of the World Looms in Space

Time to look for other real estate
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2010 3:00 AM CDT
Updated Jun 19, 2010 6:07 AM CDT
End of the World Looms in Space
A Sandia National Laboratories researcher examines the "fireball" that might be expected from an asteroid exploding in Earth's atmosphere on a supercomputer simulationin Albuquerque, NM.   (AP Photo/Sandia National Laboratories, Randy Montoya, HO)

People should stop worrying about destruction by earthlings and worry instead about the end of the world that's developing in outer space even as you read this. That's the chilling warning from a top astronomer who is convinced the world won't end with a whimper but with a very big bang when it's smashed by a mammoth asteroid. Such a cataclysm would trigger global earthquakes and monster tidal waves, immediately killing all large land animals. Sea creatures would soon follow as trillions of tons of vaporized rock would cause drastic cooling and wreck havoc with photosynthesis.

The last such event occurred 65 million years ago, and they tend to occur every 100 million years. "That sounds like a safe buffer, but the next one could happen at any time," warns Chris Impey in the Independent. The thought of a hypernova anywhere within 1,000 light years can also keep you up at night—because that would cause an immediate global conflagration. What's the solution? Time to search for retreat real estate, urges Impey. Titan, he adds, "looks promising."
(Read more Hypernova stories.)

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