- Gamma-ray bursts are one of the most energetic occurrences in the universe
- Apep’s two stars are 10 to 15 times more massive and 100,000 times brighter than the Sun
- The two stars also orbit each other about every 125 years
Apep, one of the Wolf-Rayets binary star systems dubbed as the “exotic peacocks of the stellar world” discovered in 2018, was found to have the capacity to detonate long gamma ray bursts that are potentially deadly. If it detonates, the explosion could be something never seen in the Milky Way before, according to scientists.
“As well as exhibiting all the usual extreme behavior of Wolf-Rayets, Apep’s main star looks to be rapidly rotating. This means it could have all the ingredients to detonate a long gamma-ray burst when it goes supernova,” Peter Tuthill, study lead and professor from the University of Sydney, said in a press release.
In the study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the team explained that gamma-ray bursts are one of the most energetic occurrences in the universe, adding that “they are potentially deadly.”
If the detonation happens on Earth, for instance, the explosion can destroy the ozone layer, exposing everyone and everything to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. The scientists clarify that Apep’s axis of rotation is far from Earth and won’t affect humans when an explosion happens in the future.
Apep, a binary star system that is 8,000 light-years from Earth, was classified as a Wolf-Rayet two years ago. Being categorized as a Wolf-Rayet is already rare. Only a handful of stars made the cut to be categorized as one. Their temperatures are so hot that they collapse in a supernova explosion faster than the ordinary stars.
In the case of Apep, it is also recognized as one of