Sinners in the Crosshairs of an Angry God?

If you were a bit unclear on that benevolent deity bit, you might want/not want to check out this story. It seems that a jet from a supermassive black hole in the center of one galaxy is blasting into another nearby galaxy.

A jet of highly charged radiation from a supermassive black hole at the center of a distant galaxy is blasting another galaxy nearby -- an act of galactic violence that astronomers said yesterday they have never seen before.

Using images from the orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory and other sources, scientists said the extremely intense jet from the larger galaxy can be seen shooting across 20,000 light-years of space and plowing into the outer gas and dust of the smaller one.

Intense jets of particles and photons can be hazardous.

"What we've identified is an act of violence by a black hole, with an unfortunate nearby galaxy in the line of fire," said Dan Evans, the study leader at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge. He said any planets orbiting the stars of the smaller galaxy would be dramatically affected, and any life forms would likely die as the jet's radiation transformed the planets' atmosphere.

. . .

If a jet were to hit Earth, Evans said, it would destroy the ozone layer and collapse the magnetosphere that blankets the planet and protects it from harmful solar particles. Without the ozone layer and magnetosphere, he said, much of life on Earth would end.

"This jet could be causing all sorts of problems for the smaller galaxy it is pummeling," Evans said.

I find the idea of a whole galaxy, with perhaps thousands or millions of inhabited planets, being turned into crispy critters more than a little disquieting.


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