Recent advances in technology allow us to look and explore far into the Universe and we have compiled a reasonable map of planets, stars and other components in the space beyond our world. We see and understand the courses they take, some idea of how they function, their effect on adjacent bodies and others whose paths they cross in their travels. However, this knowledge has also brought an understanding of the risks some of these cosmic bodies pose to Earth.
Our sun creates strong magnetic fields that generate impressive sun spots, sometimes many times larger than Earth. It also ejects a stream of particles and radiation – the solar wind. If kept in check by Earth’s magnetic field, this wind can cause beautiful northern and southern lights, but when it becomes stronger, it can also influence radio communication or cause power outages. In recent years we have become entirely dependent on electronic equipment, which could suffer greatly; there would be no electricity, affecting heating, air conditioning, GPS and the internet. For example, food and medicines would go bad.
We are now well aware of the dangers asteroids could pose to humanity and recent research has made us aware of the large host of space rocks in our solar system that could pose danger.
We are at the starting point of envisaging and developing systems for protecting us against some of the smaller asteroids that could strike us, but against the bigger and rarer ones we are quite helpless. While they would not always destroy Earth or even make it uninhabitable, they could wipe out humanity by causing enormous tsunamis, fires and other natural disasters.
Local Gamma Ray Burst
Extremely powerful outbursts of energy called gamma ray bursts can be caused by binary star systems (two stars orbiting a common centre) and supernovas (exploding stars). These energy bursts are extremely powerful because they focus their energy into a narrow beam lasting no longer than seconds or minutes. The resulting radiation from one could damage and destroy our ozone layer, leaving life vulnerable to the sun’s harsh UV radiation.
Supernova explosions, which take place when a star has reached the end of its life, occur on average once or twice every 100 years in our Milky Way galaxy. They are more likely to occur closer to the dense centre of the Milky Way and we are about two-thirds of the way from the middle. The star Betelgeuse – a red super giant nearing the end of its life – in the constellation of Orion is just 460-650 light years away. While it could become a supernova anytime, 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.
A wandering star on its path through the Milky Way might come so close to our sun that it would interact with the rocky “Oort cloud” at the edge of the solar system, which is the source of our comets. This might lead to an increased chance of a huge comet hurtling to Earth.
A new report released on 20thJune 2018 outlines the threat from nearby asteroids and whether or not we’re prepared if we find one headed toward Earth. The report was issued by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology, with support from with NASA and other government agencies. It says we’re probably not in danger from a large asteroid, but exposed to a lot more risk when it comes to smaller objects. “NASA is confident that it has discovered and catalogued all near-Earth asteroids large enough to cause significant global damage and determined that they are not on collision courses with Earth,” the report says, while noting that this does not necessarily include faint comets on the outer reaches of the solar system. NASA officials also said today they believe they have found 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids more than a kilometre wide. But it’s harder to find mid-size asteroids, some of which are still big enough to cause continent-wide damage. In 1908, an asteroid just 50 meters wide exploded over Tunguska, Russia and levelled more than 2,000 square kilometres of forest. If a similar event happened over a populated region like New York City, it could cause “millions of casualties,” the report says.
What does this mean?
For 3,000 years we have been told about a time of upheaval in the ‘heavens’.
Isaiah 13:10 – The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
Joel 3:15– The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.
Matthew 24:29– Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
Luke 21: 11 – There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
Luke 21: 25– There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.
Revelation 6:13 – …and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.
What else does the Bible tell us?– The Future
What does that mean for you?– Good News
The Conversation – 19thJanuary 2017
The Planetary Society – 20thJune 2018