In 2007, a supergiant star two hundred times bigger than the sun was utterly obliterated by runaway thermonuclear reactions triggered by gamma ray-driven antimatter production. The resulting blast was visible for months because it unleashed a cloud of radioactive material over fifty times the size of our own star, giving off a nuclear fission glow visible from galaxies away. SN 2007bi was discovered by the international Nearby Supernova Factory based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The explosion ejected more than 22 solar masses of silicon and other heavy elements into space, including more than six solar masses of radioactive nickel which caused the expanding gases to glow brightly for many months.
The antimatter annihilates with its opposite, as antimatter is wont to do, but the problem is that the speed of antimatter explosion - which is pretty damn fast - is still a critical delay in the gamma-pressure holding up the star. The outer layers sag in, compressing the core more, raising the temperature, making more energetic gamma rays even more likely to make antimatter and suddenly the whole star is a runaway nuclear reactor beyond the scale of the imagination. The entire thermonuclear core detonates at once, an atomic warhead that's not just bigger than the Sun - it's bigger than the Sun plus the mass of another ten close by stars.
« "Alien Edens" ----Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins: 'Life Exists Elsewhere in the Universe' | Main | The 'Galaxy' Comment of the Day: Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins: 'Life Exists Elsewhere in the Universe' »