Saturday, September 26, 2009

2012 stuff, gamma rays this time

Earlier I wrote about various 2012 doomsday scenarios, which involved some sort of space rock/comet/interstellar flotsam/Planet X hitting the Earth and causing a Hollywood style near extinction event, and how it seems unlikely. Also, a "mysterious attractive/gravitational force" scenario where the Solar System is affected by the pull of the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center (Sagittarius A, or Sgr. A) doesn't seem very likely because of the distance of the center: we are far more affected by closer attractors.

Now, a scenario with a little more recent and scientific evidence surrounding it has to do with gamma ray emissions from the Galactic Center. At this point in our Earth's celestial rounds, the Galactic Center is obscured by interstellar dust, and so telescopes using non-visible wavelengths are used to study it. The doomsday scenario involves the Earth being exposed to extremely powerful emissions of gamma rays coming from the Galactic Center as we move into alignment with it. These emissions, remember, unlike the visible spectrum, are not blocked by the interstellar dust and that is what allows radio telescopes and things like the Chandra telescope to "see" them. Also, gamma rays have directional characteristics (anisotropy) and so can be emitted as "beams".

So the 'end story' goes like this: the Earth and the Solar System come into the alignment with the Galactic Center's equatorial plane. The Galactic Center emits extremely high energy gamma rays (this is known to be true) particularly so along it's equator (this is not known to be true) and so the Solar System including Earth is bathed in ultra-high energy gamma rays. Gamma rays are ionizing radiation, and so can cause cellular damage.

Now, revisiting the earlier "Solar System like Saturn's rings" model, there is also this information regarding "stardust clouds" nearing the Solar System. What it indicated was that interstellar dust could affect the terrestrial climate.

Now there are some sites that put this and other information together to indicate Solar System-wide global warming, all Sol's planets getting warmer, and this being caused by some outside influence, like interstellar dust clouds or increased gamma ray emissions.

SO, now, this is maybe something. Or nothing, because while there are indications of some planets experiencing climate change, including ours, it may be temporary in some cases, and in the case of our planet, it seems like humanity's activities have a hand in it. In addition, the current Solar Maximum is due to peak in late 2011 or 2012, so there will be more solar flare/storm emissions from the Sun.

What it comes down to is if we are headed into an interstellar cloud bank, a galactic plane of increased gamma ray emissions AND the Solar Max peak in 2012, then we may be in for some issues.

So, would building a bomb shelter help? As always, it depends on the amount of food and water you can stock your bomb shelter with, and I guess how much poop your bomb shelter septic tank can hold. If you could pull a setup like Christopher Walken does here then you might be just fine. But then, if the Earth warms up to be above 130F, you likely will not.

One thing is for certain: we have no other choice than to ride along on Earth on whatever path it goes, through whatever cosmic perils.


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