I just got back from a three day stay in the hospital. It turned out that I had a (very painful) case of Acute Sigmoid Diverticulitis (the inner threat). While I was there my wife bought me an astronomy magazine to help pass the time (it turns out that hospitals are very boring places). One article in particular caught my eye — it was about a solar flare that impacted earth satellites. This happens all the time of course but this one was very different — it was not caused by our sun , but from one 45,000 light years away. This article details the incident nicely. That’s not the worst threat however, my magazine went on like this:
Truly dangerous sources
Somewhere within our galaxy lies a handful of future gamma-ray bursters. These are invisible until the moment each erupts in a beamed blast of energy so strong it is capable — even from 3,000 light-years away — of wiping out all life on Earth. Scientists blame the almost instantaneous collapse of a massive star into a black hole as the prime cause for most gamma ray bursts (See “In the line of fire,” Astronomy, January 2004.)
The Universe is a much scarier place than I had ever previously imagined.