Paul Sutter is a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University’s Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP). Sutter is also host of the podcasts Ask a Spaceman and RealSpace, and the YouTube series Space In Your Face.
Because of my Ask a Spaceman podcast, speaking events and people sitting next to me on long flights, I get a lot of questions. Sometimes they’re even about space. I love getting new questions and hearing what people are curious about. I’ve narrowed down all the questions I got this year into my favorite top five. Here we go!
Is the light from a supernova dangerous?
It depends on what you mean by “dangerous.” If you mean “can kill you in an instant without any effort”, then…yes, it’s dangerous. A single supernova explosion can outshine an entire galaxy. Yes, you read that right. For a few days a single dying star is brighter than hundreds of billions of suns shining in unison. You think a sunburn is bad? Maybe a few blisters? You won’t be able to pack enough SPF to cover your back if you’re too close to a supernova going off.