Segments in this Video

What Are Death Stars? (03:35)


Death stars are aging celestial giants preparing to blast themselves into oblivion. This last blast of gamma rays can ignite the biggest explosion in the known universe. These stars are the largest stars in the universe.

Death Star: Spiral Plume of Dust (03:12)

Death star WR104 is surrounded by a dust cloud 20 times larger than Earth's solar system. Infrared composite photos show that WR104 produces a spiraling plume of dust. WR104 is locked in orbit with a smaller star, creating stellar winds.

Stellar Gamma Ray Burst (05:26)

If death star WR104 explodes, the supernova will give off an immense burst of radiation. The supernova could trigger a gamma ray burst, the most violent and lethal event in the universe.

Gamma Ray Burst: Threat to Earth? (03:46)

A tightly focused beam from a gamma ray burst (GRB) can travel vast distances in space. Gamma rays traveled at the speed of light for 13 billion years before it was visible to Earth. The GRB occurred 630 million years after the Big Bang.

Mass Extinction Possibility (05:14)

Will the death of WR104 trigger a gamma ray burst that could extinguish all life? The mandatory requirement for this to happen is "high horsepower rotation." Metallicity indicates what fraction of a particular metal is present in a star's atmosphere.

Death Galaxies (07:06)

Known as 3C321, the death galaxy system contains two galaxies in orbit around each other. Both galaxies contain super massive black holes at their centers, but the larger galaxy has a jet emanating from the vicinity of its black hole.

Hypervelocity Stars and Neutron Stars (06:49)

Incredibly violent, most of the hypervelocity stars will one day burn up and become white dwarf stars. Some are giants ending in a supernova that in some cases collapses into an incredibly dense neutron star.

Production of Hypervelocity Stars (03:39)

Hypervelocity stars (HVS) are believed to originate by close encounters of binary stars with the super-massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. One of the partners is captured by the black hole, and the other escapes with high velocity.

Betelgeuse: Red Supergiant (01:27)

Betelgeuse is a red supergiant. The luminosity of the star is about 10,000 times that of the sun. The star has nearly run through its supply of nuclear power. If Betelgeuse released a gamma ray burst, the Earth would be spared destruction

Sun: Giver and Taker of Life on Earth (02:28)

Earth's sun will live another 5 billion years. Before it dies, it will enter the red giant phase in which it swells and expands, devouring planets that surround it.

Credits: Death Stars (00:26)

Credits: Death Stars

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Death Stars

Part of the Series : The Universe
3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



Some explode into a supernova. Others blast out a tremendous gamma ray burst. This program focuses on death star WR104—a direct threat to Earth?—and death star 3C321, a terrifying vision of what could one day befall the Milky Way galaxy. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. A part of the series The Universe. (45 minutes)

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL43148

Copyright date: ©2009

Closed Captioned

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