5 Ways the Universe Could Kill Us All

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First lets make something clear – the world is going to end one day, there’s no doubt about it. When? Nobody knows. It could happen billions of years from now, or it could happen tomorrow… Here are five cosmic events that could wipe us out at any moment:

1. Rogue Black Hole

Black Hole
Image via NASA

Black holes are one of the most terrifying things in the universe. Huge, powerful and most important invisible, a black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot escape. The good news is they don’t usually move around much. However there exist another type of black holes – the so called rogue or wandering black holes. They are black holes that move throughout the stars consuming anything and everything on their path. And those things are fast – moving at a speed of about 5,000,000 kilometers per hour, or roughly 1389 kilometers per second. If a black hole was coming our way we would be able to detect it years or even centuries before it gets here but unfortunately there would be nothing we could do about it.

2. Asteroid Impact

Asteroid Impact
Image via NASA/Don Davis

The most famous asteroid ever is the one that hit Earth 65 million years ago. It’s thought that this asteroid threw so much moisture and dust in to the atmosphere that it cut off sunlight, lowering temperatures worldwide and causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. More than 100 tons of material hit the planet each day, but most of this burns in the atmosphere. However, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that something a bit bigger might be coming our way.

3. Gamma-Ray Bursts

Gamma Ray Bursts
Image via NASA

Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the Universe, and most originate in distant galaxies. A large percentage of bursts likely arise from the explosion of stars over 15 times more massive than our Sun. Scientists say burst from a nearby star could cause severe damage to the Earth’s protective ozone layer. A Wolf–Rayet star in WR 104, about 8,000 light-years (2,500 pc) away, is considered a nearby GRB candidate that could have destructive effects on terrestrial life. It is expected to explode in a core-collapse-supernova at some point within the next 500,000 years and it is possible that this explosion will create a GRB. If that happens, there is a small chance that Earth will be in the path of its gamma ray jet.

4. Nearby Supernova

Image via NASA

A supernova is the explosion of a dying star. It happens once every 100 years or so in our galaxy. They are more likely to occur closer to the dense center of the Milky Way and we are about two-thirds of the way from the middle – so they are usually not a threat to us. However, there have been some close calls. The star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion. It’s a red giant in the end of its life and is just 460-650 light years away. Luckily, astronomers have estimated that a supernova would need to be within at least 50 light years of us for its radiation to damage our ozone layer. It seems we’re safe for now.

5. Alien Virus

Ebola Virus
Image via Global Panorama/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

According to Professor Stephen Hawking if contact with aliens is made they would kill humans and take over Earth. He said:  “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America. And that obviously didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” A Hollywood- style invasion is highly unlikely though. Instead, the aliens would probably release some kind of probe or craft with virulent agents aboard. Then they would just sit back and wait for us all to die as our immune system would have no way to fight against this new invader.