If you’re a lover of sci-fi fantasy films, then you’re most assuredly a fan of Star Wars. One of the most infamous scenes in the original Star Wars series was where the Millennium Falcon and its crew came across a rather large, dark object. Following what appears to be a stray Imperial Fighter, Luke Skywalker notices the object, thinking the Fighter was heading towards a small moon. Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, knew better. “That’s no moon; it’s a space station.”
Indeed, it wasn’t a small moon after all, but a space station – what eventually is revealed to be the Death Star! What made the Death Star so amazing that it captured the imagination of all sci-fi geeks alike wasn’t just because of its technological marvel, but its weaponry prowess as well. The Death Star was, for all intents and purposes, a superweapon designed to destroy an entire planet with a single shot.
And guess what? Death stars exist!…sort of. They’re most certainly no moon, and they’re most certainly capable of destroying entire planets. These particular death stars are what are known as O-type stars.
An O-type star is the largest of stars, and the hottest. Reaching a temperature in excess of 30,000 Kelvin, these stars – albeit quite rare – have been shown to emit ultraviolet radiation at a distance of 0.1 light years. As a result, where researchers were to normally observe a body of embryonic stars and proplyds (also known as protoplanetary disks) – in other words, pockets of potential planet-developing gas and dust – researchers instead discovered nothing but an intense glow of ultraviolet radiation emitting from an O-type star.
What happened? What caused all the ingredients necessary to develop planets and star systems to just disappear? The intense glow from the O-type star, is what! Given its already established temperature, this star was capable of destroying an entire body of potential planet development by heating up the pockets of gas, consequently breaking them up and eventually evaporating them – all in the course of a few million years. Impressive, right?
Granted, a few million years is still a hell of a lot longer than the single shot taken by the Death Star on Star Wars, and an O-type star is most certainly not a space station – but it’s no moon either! It’s still a star of sorts and it’s capable of destroying planets…well, planet-developing gas and dust. Oh, and did I mention that O-type stars are short lived? It must be a Death Star!