London: In what seems to be straight out of a
science fiction, American scientists have claimed the Earth
could soon be wiped out by a supernova or the explosion of a
The star, called T Pyxidis, is set to self-destruct in an
explosion with the force of 20 billion billion billion
megatons of TNT and could strip away the Earth`s ozone layer,
the astronomers from Villanova University, Philadelphia, said.
According to them, the International Ultraviolet
Explorer satellite has shown that T Pyxidis, believed to be
3,260 light-years away, is really two stars -- one called a
white dwarf that is sucking in gas and steadily growing, The
Daily Telegraph reported.
When it reaches a critical mass it will blow itself to
pieces, they said while presenting their study at the American
Astronomical Society (AAS) conference in Washington.
"It will become as bright as all the other stars in the
galaxy put together. The Hubble space telescope has
photographed the star preparing for its big bang with a series
of smaller blasts or `burps`, called novas," the newspaper
quoted the scientists as saying.
Such explosions came regularly about every 20 years from
1890 ? but stopped after 1967. So the next blast is nearly 20
years overdue, said scientists Edward M Sion, Patrick Godon
and Timothy McClain at the AAS conference.
Robin Scagell, vice president of Britain`s Society for
Popular Astronomy, said: "The star may certainly became a
supernova soon - but soon could still be a long way off so
don`t have nightmares."