A highly unstable star at the end of its life could unleash a burst of gamma-ray radiation directed straight at Earth, any time between now and the next couple of hundred thousand years.
University of Sydney astronomer Peter Tuthill discovered an elegant rotating pinwheel system known as WR104 in the constellation Sagittarius eight years ago.
It contains a Wolf-Rayet star, the last stop in a star's life before it explodes in a massive supernova.
While studying WR104's striking and colorful shape, Dr Tuthill noticed that the perfect spiral he was observing could only occur when staring right down the centre of it.
"Viewed from Earth, the rotating tail appears to be laid out on the sky in an almost perfect spiral,'' Dr Tuthill said.
"It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system.''
Bit of a worry and yet somehow very cool. And kind of amazing that we just happen to be right in the firing range, as it were.
Edited by Ins0mniac, 03 March 2008 - 01:51 PM.