Bad Astronomy

There are two things right now that I’m quite unsure of. The first is how long I’ve been aware of the Bad Astronomy blog by Phil Plait. I know it has been at least a few years though. The second and more perplexing is why up until now I have been content to follow the occasional link to said blog without ever subscribing to it.

Well that situation has changed now. His recent post, “Anniversary of a cosmic blast“, about the December 2004 recording of the explosion of energy from a starquake on a magnetar, has finally prompted me to click that “subscribe” button:

The sheer amount energy generated is difficult to comprehend. Although the crust probably shifted by only a centimeter, the incredible density and gravity made that a violent event well beyond anything we mere humans have experienced. The quake itself would have registered as 32 on the Richter scale β€” mind you, the largest earthquake ever recorded was about 9 on that scale, and it’s a logarithmic scale. The blast of energy surged away from the magnetar, out into the galaxy. In just 200 milliseconds β€” a fifth of a second β€” the eruption gave off as much energy as the Sun does in a quarter of a million years.

The whole post is fascinating.