A number of social media users each shared the
“scariest space fact/mystery” they could think of
after a recent prompt on the “Ask Reddit” forum.
Here are a few of the top responses — make sure your
feet are firmly planted on the ground before reading.
“The Kessler Effect is the theory that a single
destructive event in low earth orbit could create
a cascade where satellites break up into tiny
fragments taking out other satellites, breaking
up into smaller fragments and so on”.
This would continue “ until the earth is
completely surrounded by a massive cloud
of tiny flying death shrapnel which would
make leaving this planet almost impossible”.
“The speed of light, the fastest speed possible,
looks painfully slow when you look at it in
the context of even a fraction of our solar
system. We’re stuck here, aren’t we”.
One user explained vacuum decay, saying “Matter,
as it is, isn’t in its full resting state, and a little
surge of energy could shift it enough to completely
change chemistry and physics in our universe”.
Another explained gamma ray bursts. “We could be
hit by one of these with very little warning, and if it
was reasonably close (in universal terms anyway)
could wipe us out rapidly or cause a ton of damage”.
Finally, a Redditor who claimed to be an
astronomer offered “something to worry about”
that could reasonably happen in our lifetimes.
“May I introduce you to the Carrington Event
of 1859? Basically, Carrington was a scientist
who noticed a flash from a huge cluster of
sunspots, which was the biggest coronal
mass ejection from the sun ever recorded”.
It hit Earth within a day- aurora were seen as far
south as Hawaii, wires on telephone poles burst into
flame, and telegraph operators even reported
contacting each other when not connected”.
If a similar event were to strike Earth today, it
would cause billions of dollars in damage, because
blown transformers are super hard to replace and
a lot of satellites wouldn’t be able to handle it”