Nov 092017

So, a supernova is a star going *BANG.* It’s either a supermassive star undergoing its final collapse and rebound, or a white dwarf of neutron star stripping atmosphere off a co-orbiting regular star until enough hydrogen has built up on the surface to undergo a fusion flash, or two neutron stars colliding… something like that. it’s supposed to be a relatively quick flash, then a fade into some kind of dimness. What it’s NOT supposed to be is an explosion brighter than a billion suns that lasts *years.*

Bizarre 3-Year-Long Supernova Defies Our Understanding of How Stars Die

The event occurred in a small irregular galaxy some 500 million lightyears away. interestingly, another supernova was detected in the same spot in 1954, but it’s difficult to suggest that they are necessarily the same object… might have been another supernova within the same galaxy. But *this* event has had an extremely unusual light curve, indicating something horrifically powerful and ridiculously long-lasting:

Compare the areas under the curves. Not only is this thing five or so times brighter than it should be, it’s lasting perhaps five or ten times longer. But the spectrum of the light curve indicates it’s a standard Type II-P supernova, which shouldn’t act like this.

To me this event seems like an atomic bomb. Not, y’know, like an actual atomic bomb, but instead one of the atomic bombs described by H.G. Wells in his 1914 novel “The World Set Free.” his atomic bombs were utterly unlike what actually wound up appearing. His A-Bombs were more like magical reactors: they burned for *years* emitting heat, light and radiation. In essence, his atomic bombs were reactors in meltdown. Perhaps that’s what’s going on with this supernova… instead of “bang” and its done, there’s some sort of “meltdown” going on. What that could possibly be, I’ve no idea.


 Posted by at 9:48 am
  • sferrin

    Climate science is settled though. 😉

    If the supernova were a “slow burn” though, wouldn’t it be much dimmer rather than brighter than a normal one?

    • Scottlowther

      > Climate science is settled though.

      In a broad sense it is. All evidence points to the planet warming up. Hell, the local news last night had a piece on how the ski resorts here in Utah are having to fire up the artificial snow makers more and run them longer, how the temperatures at altitude go up every year and snowfall is reducing annually.

      All evidence points to CO2 playing an important role in the warming. All evidence points to humans cranking out the majority of the “excess” CO2. That’s the *science.* where it falls apart is the *politics.* Is it established that the best way to go to deal with the problem is to cripple the American economy? Nope. Is it settled that it was a genius idea to stop developing new nuclear reactors, back when they had a reasonable chance of actually replacing the power generated by burning coal? Just the opposite. Should we sue Greenpeace, similar anti-nuclear organizations and their members for damages due to their stopping technological advance? Seems likely to me. Was the rise of the anti-nuclear movement, with the consequent damage to the environment and the economy, likely a result of Soviet efforts to damage western nuclear defense capabilities, and thus the anti-nuke activists are actually working as foreign agents, committing acts of treason making them eligible for up to and including execution for crimes against the safety of the nation? I think that case can be argued.

      > wouldn’t it be much dimmer rather than brighter than a normal one

      Depends. If it was a normal star, then, yes, that would seem like it should be the case. But what if it’s some sort of hypergiant? The article suggests that maybe it’s 100+ solar masses. What if it’s some sort of celestial object we’re not encountered before? Star R136a1 has a mass of 315 suns. Current theory suggests that the most massive possible star via normal formation is something like 120to 150 solar masses, and this R136a1 is probably the result of two such giants coalescing. But what if there was a tightly bound cluster of a lot of such hypergiants, all slowly and relatively sedately coming together? At some point the thing should just collapse into a black hole, but maybe it puts up a hell of a fight along the way.

      Heck, maybe that’s what’s already happened… a sizable black hole is in the process of eating one or more hypergiants, dragging their atmospheres into an accretion disk, with fusion happening in the disk itself. Shrug, I dunno…

      • becida

        We’re near the end of an interglacial period that’s lasted around 10,000 years (so far).
        It has been warmer in that 10,000 year period, colder too…. That’s a long time for mankind but a very short period for what the earth does.

        I’m not a “scientist” but I think the “observe, hypothesis, experiment” is a great way to figure things out.
        I am just one of those people who has a health respect for history and a low opinion of what happens when money gets involved in scientific outcomes.

        • Scottlowther

          > I am just one of those people who has a health respect for history and a
          low opinion of what happens when money gets involved in scientific

          There is, indeed, a lot of money involved in pushing the notion that global warming is a myth.

          • sferrin

            And a lot that it isn’t. Gore’s Carbon Credit scheme comes to mind. Lot’s of people looking to get rich off that. And that’s not even counting all the Soylendra type scams.

            Personally, while I believe them when they say temps are rising, and even (to a degree) that humans are contributing. . .I’m finding it difficult to think that destroying our economy chasing unicorn dreams is a good idea. If they were to actually get serious about it (by telling the national labs such as LLNL, LANL, etc. to find workable solutions to replacing fossil fuels for example) I might believe they were serious. IMO anybody preaching about climate change, who then goes on to say, “nuclear is off the table” is neither serious about the issue nor actually believes it themselves. Lastly, we don’t even know that it would be worse (all things considered). For the majority of Earth’s history there have been NO polar ice caps as I recall. Life didn’t seem to mind.

          • Scottlowther

            > For the majority of Earth’s history there have been NO polar ice caps as I recall. Life didn’t seem to mind.

            Life didn’t mind… but Miami would. Cape Canaveral would. New York. LA. Seattle. London. Basically anywhere near a coastline would kinda mind if there were no polar ice packs. Of course, people anywhere near the equator would mind too, and they’d all come north. You think illegal immigration is bad now? A few million Syrians moving to Europe? Imagine if all of Africa decided that it was either move to Europe or *die.* If all of central America decided that it was go to the US or Canada or *die.*

            Of course losing the polar ice is a long way off, but there’s a whole lot of damage that can be done between here and there. And that’s really beside the point: if the question is simply “is the Earth warming,” the answer is “yes.” If the question is “are humans contributing,” the answer is “yes.” These are not value judgements, declarations of good or evil, they’re simply measurements.

          • sferrin

            “Of course, people anywhere near the equator would mind too, and they’d all come north. You think illegal immigration is bad now?”

            Show them the wisdom of going South instead.

          • Scottlowther

            The problem is that there isn’t that much south to go to.

          • FelixA9

            All of South America.

          • Scottlowther

            Keep in mind that the hypothetical here is the loss of the polar ice caps. This means not only a substantial sea level rise but also an incredible increase in average temperature. Under those conditions, much of South America would be simply unlivable. Much of it sits right on the equator; I’d imagine it would quickly turn hellish and the local ecosystems – and agriculture- would go into complete collapse. I such a world, Canada would start looking *real* good… not just to people from central America, but to those from South America as well.

          • robunos20
          • David Winfrey

            People! Why are we arguing about climate change when there’s OBVIOUSLY (been) a loose atomic vortex active in an irregular galaxy 500 million ly away? WHERE’S “STORM” CLOUD?

          • robunos20

            Hmmm . . . seems that some of the warming in Antarctica is of geothermal origin . . .

          • Scottlowther

            As the article points out, it’s not new, on the order of 50 to 100 million years old.While it would contribute to warming, it’s not a contributor to *new* warming.

            Anyway, it’s probably due to shoggths digging around.

          • robunos20

            > . . . to shoggths digging around.
            Forgot about them . . . I just thought it was more than co-incidental that the region of Antarctica that’s supposed to become habitable on the map I posted above, is the same region where the mantle plume is situated.

          • imhoFRED

            > If the question is “are humans contributing,” the answer is “yes.” These are not value judgements, declarations of good or evil, they’re simply measurements.

            No, there isn’t a causal chain of “proof” that increased CO2 causes the warming we’ve seen. (as opposed to 5 or 10 other viable causal factors)

            Anyone advocating that stopping the (small) human CO2 production will change the climate in any predictable way deserves to be recorded on youtube/twitter making a specific prediction. So that later we can laugh at them and mock them out of the public sphere when their predictions are tested.

          • becida

            Sure thing…

      • imhoFRED

        > All evidence points to CO2 playing an important role in the warming.

        Or solar output fluctuations. Or albedo changes due to clouds. Or deforestation, or CO2 emission from biomass. Or changes in methane concentrations. Or a true unknown, unknown.

        > All evidence points to humans cranking out the majority of the “excess” CO2.

        Carbon cycle is not well understood. Even the CO2 measurement data shows yearly fluctuations/decreases on the order of the yearly human produced CO2 emissions.

        Lots of interesting science to do here, but be careful you don’t get crucified talking/theorizing about it.

        • Scottlowther

          The albedo changes due to clouds, deforestation, co2 from biomass, and methane issues are all human related. I remain confounded by people who think that humans are too trivial to change a planet. These are folks I don’t want on my Mars terraforming team.

      • se jones

        In a broad sense it is.
        That’s right, I agree. But *details* like the variability of snow levels at ski resorts in Utah… bullshit.

        In a nutshell, there’s a philosophical split in the world of climatology and meteorology. The Michael Mann / Algore crowd have a god complex, they put their faith in supercomputer physics based models…”god in a box”.

        Others, including me, say that’s ridiculous. On the grid size of the best state-of the-art 100 x 100 x 1 km models, gigantic tropical thunderstorms don’t even show up, they are too small. The devil’s in the details, and these numerical models are too crude to incorporate the most important details.

        Three statisticians go hunting and flush a duck. The first shoots high, over the bird’s head. The second aims too low and sends a bullet whistling meters below the duck’s belly. So the third statistician jumps up and down yelling, “We got him! We done got him!”

        Not the best way to bag waterfowl, perhaps—but in their own habitat, researchers have found similar scattershot methods very effective for predicting the behavior of complex systems. “Stochastic” techniques, in which computer simulations spit out clouds of possible outcomes, have been widely applied in economics, physics, engineering, and weather forecasting. They have not found a home, however, in one of the highest profile and most contentious areas of forecasting: climate modeling

        numerical simulations. The results have been scientifically informative—but critics charge that the models have become unwieldy, hobbled by their own complexity. And no matter how complex they become, they struggle to forecast the future.

        …The models start by dividing the atmosphere into a huge 3D grid of boxlike elements, with horizontal edges typically 100 kilometers long and up to 1 kilometer high. Equations based on physical laws describe how variables in each box—mainly pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed

        …Much of the problem boils down to grid resolution. “The truth is that the level of detail in the models isn’t really determined by scientific constraints,” says Tim Palmer, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who advocates stochastic approaches to climate modeling. “It is determined entirely by the size of the computers…

        Science 13 Jun 2014:
        Vol. 344, Issue 6189, pp. 1221-1223
        DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6189.1221

        • Scottlowther

          My preference is for measurements rather than projections, and the measurements certainly suggest a warming world.

          • se jones

            Scuse me? warming: Present participles can be used after verbs of perception in the pattern verb + object + present participle to indicate the action being perceived

            “Warming world” ≡ projection of current warmth to future (projection def: an estimate or forecast of a future situation or trend based on a study of present ones)

            On one philosophical level we agree here, the stochastic method I prefer depends on actual in situ measurements, to wit: the climate was like that when the measurements taken were like this, so then -what did the climate do next? Does that show a trend?

            The super computer based numerical simulations say “fuck all that, we can put nature in a box, run the simulation and out comes a projection”.

            There is a huge rift between adherents to the two methods, a rift the public never hears about because the high priests of climate science get all the media attention with their pretty CGI, and their institutions are experts at self promotion to get funding for their prestigious supercomputers.

            In addition to computer infatuation, the public is MUCH too enamored with satellite data with pretty images from on high. Sorry…satellites are not magic, they can’t tell you what the temperature of the air is outside your door or how fast the wind is blowing, to know the state of the air outside your door takes in situ measurements. This drives me and my colleagues crazy, $ billions and $ billions for supercomputer models with
            10,000^2 km resolution, while the national weather service gets by with poorly maintained old weather stations located next to some huge asphalt parking lot (HOT) that wasn’t there 30 years ago when the station was emplaced.

            Sorry man, that Popsci thing is crap, it has everything I HATE about popular press reporting on climate. Graphs designed to exaggerate the hell out of the data, scary pictures of fires but no mention of the millions of new homes going up in the urban-wild-land interface, where the FS has been suppressing fires for 75 years, and so on.

          • Scottlowther

            > Sorry man, that Popsci thing is crap, it has everything I HATE about popular press reporting on climate.

            OK, so I’ll play the game like how the zealots on both sides play it: “So, you don’t like the pop sci of Pop Sci. I guess that means that there’s no warming at all.”

            I only grabbed that link because it’s the most recent one, as in a day or two old. There are, as I’m sure you are well aware, a *lot* of independent measurements showing that the world is getting warmer, from direct ocean temperature measurements to stuff like opening and closing dates of ski resorts to the dates when Alaskan rivers freeze up and break loose again to the dates flowers first bloom to the migration patterns of bugs and birds.

          • se jones

            No no, like I said, in a broad sense it is warming up, you’re right,

            I object to:
            the exaggerated scaremongering
            the exaggerated certainty of the computer models
            the exaggerated certainty of satellite measurement
            the manipulated data to publish PC papers to get grant money
            the (bordering on comedy) PC papers in journals where ridiculous things
            are blamed on global warming
            the constant dishonest blaming of every fire, flood, storm, drought, disease, and bad hair day on global warming.
            the TOTAL silence on possible benefits of a warmer earth

            Sorry, the skiing has gotten way better here in Colorado in the last few decades. When I started skiing in the 1970s, you’d never consider going skiing before Xmas, there wasn’t enough snow. Now, if the resorts aren’t buried in snow by Thanksgiving, people freak out.

            I’m sure there will be no more snow by 2010 just like the guy from The National Ski Areas Association said in his big presentation at the CU student center. Oh wait…


  • Peter Hanely

    Crazy idea … Is it possible that an initial supernova created a Hawking black hole that powered the bulk of energy output?

    • Scottlowther

      According to current understanding all black holes are more or less the same except for mass rotation and charge. They seem to follow a distinct and mathematically predictable course through hawking radiation if they ate cut off from mass-energy input. And hawking radiation only gets really energetic in the last moments of the hole. Absolutely nothing like this monster. Of course the universe keeps tossing out new things nobody thought of before…

      • publiusr

        Let me have a go. Some black hole happens to be between us and this event. You not only have a focal line allowing the brightness to stay up–but also–some delay (not “tired light mind you)

        And that curve seems to suggest “companion object” what with the ups and downs.