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Everything You Need to Know About the Gamma Ray Bursts that May Kill Us All

The list of things from space that can suddenly wipe out the entire human race is distressingly long. So far we have: solar flares that can send us back to the Stone Age (thanks you Sun of a…), black holes that can spaghettify us if they ever came close enough, and, of course, asteroids that can dino-destroy us (although at least we’re getting some really great mediocre movies out of that one). But don’t forget about GRBs, or Gamma Ray Bursts.

These are fun ’cause they’d kill us all like a sniper with a laser gun.

The video above, which outlines how a GRB could annihilate the human race faster than the Flash sneezes, comes from YouTube Channel Kursgesagt, which means “In a nutshell” in German. And this video tells us in a nut shell that the cosmic phenomena are born from some of the most powerful events in the universe, and are not to be trifled with.

The reason GRBs aren’t to be taken lightly is because they are light—very high-energy light. Comprised of gamma rays, this ionizing radiation wrecks DNA and shatters atomic bonds. As the video points out, “a single gamma ray photon is more energetic than a million visible photons combined.”

The video also shows us how GRBs are created, and that’s where things get really cool (read: hot), because we think they’re born from two unimaginably large events: supernovae and the merging of neutron stars. These are the kinds of events that emit as much energy as a star does in its 10 billion year lifespan in about 100 seconds.

Luckily, all of the GRBs scientists have detected up until now have come from outside our galaxy, and have been too far away to hurt us. But—here it comes—if one of these high-energy lightwave sniper shots were to hit us from even a few thousand lightyears away, it could destroy our ozone layer and allow the Sun to cook us all to death. And we thought the dinosaurs had it bad…


But you know who doesn’t have it bad? You! Because you can let us know what you think of this video in the comments below!

Images: Kursgesagt – In a Nutshell


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