Monster supernova in our galaxy can explode in an extremely powerful gamma beam – strong enough to tear the ozone from the Earth's atmosphere.
The clock bomb is at the heart of the star system of 8,000 light-years in the Milky Way called Apep, after the Egyptian God of Chaos.
Researchers at the University of Sydney say the giant star is in perfect conditions for gamma rays – the most extreme events in the universe after the Big Bang.
An international team of astronomers, using giant telescopes, noticed the unique star system under the tail of the constellation "Scorpio".
Dr. Joe Callingham, who led the study, said: "We knew at once that we had found something extraordinary: the light in the radio spectrum from the infrared spectrum was beyond the diagrams.
"When we saw the stunning dust that rolled around these fiery stars, we decided to call it" Apep, "the monstrous serpent deity and the deadly enemy of the sun god god of Egyptian mythology.
Dr. Benjamin Pape, co-author of Apep's research, says: "What we found in the Apep system is a supernova's predecessor that seems to be spinning very quickly, as quickly as it may be near disintegration.
"Normal supernovae are already extreme events, but adding rotation to the mixture can really throw gas on the fire."
Fortunately, Apep does not seem to be targeting the Earth.
If this is the case, a supernova beam radiation that can break the ozone from the Earth's atmosphere drastically increases the exposure of the planet to dangerous ultraviolet light from the sun.
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Without ozone, ultraviolet radiation would quickly cause a catastrophe, damaging the DNA of all animal and plant life on Earth.
Scientists do not know for sure that Apep will bring gamma rays, as its future remains uncertain, but this will be the first such blast in the Milky Way if it does.
Professor Tittel, who heads the research group at the University of Sydney, said: "Meanwhile, we give astronomers a corner seat in beautiful and dangerous physics that we have not seen before in the galaxy."
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