The universe is a deadly, dangerous place, and it’s filled with nightmarish objects that would cook our poor insignificant planet in the blink of an eye. From our vantage point here on Earth, it certainly seems like Earth is the one place where things seem relatively calm.
To quote Howard Philips Lovecraft, “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
We’ve already talked about objects like Wasp-12b, Trappist-1, rogue planets, and a literal shooting star in the previous iteration of this list, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, we’ve got so many more horrors to show you.
Here are 10 more of the most terrifying places in the known universe.
10. Terminating Tinkerbell
What was originally thought to be the collision between a spiral bar and an irregular galaxy has shocked astronomers with a third finding, another irregular galaxy of massive size at the head of this intense collision. All of these galaxies are in the middle of an extremely violent process of colliding and merging.
Events like this, especially one where we can directly observe three galaxies merging together, are extremely rare, but what makes this a terrifying object is the violent activity happening in the “head” galaxy as well as certain parts of the body and terminating “wings.” Stars are exploding into existence all throughout the galaxy at an alarmingly fast rate of 200 solar masses per year.
We don’t really know much about the mechanics and conditions of supermassive black hole mergers like this, but models show that such events can lead toward the formation of a quasar, where massive relativistic jets of material get hurtled through space at insane speeds approaching 10% the speed of light. While it’s unlikely that any of the stars in this system will have collided, these types of mergers cause galaxies to prematurely age due to the immense amount of material that gets converted into new stars. At the end of the merger, sadly, all of the youngest stars in the galaxy will likely go supernova, leaving only red stars with a much longer life span.
It’s also possible that the gravitational disturbances caused by the merger will cause many stars to be launched from the triple galaxy system into the depths of space.
Definitely not a galaxy you’d want to call home.
While Venus may not be the closest planet to the sun, it is certainly the one with the hottest surface. Thanks to a combination of active volcanism and a suffocating carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, temperatures can reach an absolutely hellish 471 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt lead.
If the scorching temperatures and putrid yellow-green sky don’t deter you, perhaps the roaming clouds of sulfuric acid and pressures exceeding 90 percent greater than the surface of the Earth might. Yes, those pressures are similar to 600 meters below the ocean on Earth, which is enough to cause most craft that dare to descend to the surface to implode.
Suffice it to say, a human on the surface would not last very long without equipment that would, when compared to our current technology, look like space magic.
CoRot-7B is five times more massive than the Earth, belonging to the category of planets known as super-Earths, and it’s thought that it was once a gas giant before it had most of its gasses stripped from its surface.
It takes just 20.4 hours for the planet to orbit its star, meaning that if it was indeed a gas giant, it would have been a scorching hot-Jupiter.
If you were to stand on this world’s surface, its host star would appear at least 360 times larger than our sun does here on Earth—meaning it would absolutely dominate the sky.
The exoplanet is also tidally locked thanks to its close proximity to its star. The daylight side reaches temperatures exceeding 1982 (with a maximum of 2,326) degrees Celsius, which is approaching half the temperature of our sun (5,505 degrees Celsius).
But if the temperatures and star dominated sky don’t terrify you, then the fact that it rains rocks should.
Orbiting a star remarkably similar to ours between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, Kepler-10b is odd in that while it’s only 1.4 times the diameter of Earth, it’s nearly 4.5 times as massive. It orbits Kepler-10 20% closer than Mercury orbits our sun and takes less than one Earth day to complete one revolution.
Temperatures reach a scorching 1,371 degrees Celsius, but the most terrifying thing about Kepler-10b is that the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium detected high-frequency variations in the star’s brightness caused by stellar oscillations, or, in other words, “starquakes.”
Planets that orbit their host stars at such an extreme distance are subject to intense tidal forces that can cause all kinds of geological activity, on a level greater than the moons around Jupiter and Saturn even. Suffice it to say, you would not survive long on the surface of Kepler-10b.
Neutron stars are the remnants left over from a supernova event. After a star four to eight times the mass of our own explodes, the core it leaves behind then collapses under its own gravity, creating what amounts to a superdense corpse of a star. These things exhibit some pretty extreme properties that would make living around one impossible. To list a few examples, they have extremely powerful magnetic fields, a neutron dense soup-like surface with a structure that is most often compared to lasagna, and a maddeningly fast rotational speed (completing hundreds of rotations every second).
And all of that in a radius no larger than 20 kilometers.
While neutron stars might be worthy of their own entry on this list, there is one object they’re related to that definitely supersedes them in terms of sheer terrifying power.
As if the properties of a neutron star weren’t metal enough, every once in a while, two neutron stars end up revolving around one another and smashing together, creating a kilonova, one of the brightest and most energetic types of explosions in the universe. Sometimes, when such a collision occurs, a magnetar is created from the combination of the two neutron stars.
These objects are absolutely terrifying. They exhibit magnetic fields so powerful, that if you were to get too close to one (within 1,000 kilometers), not only would your normal bioelectricity cease to function, the bonds between the molecules in your body would basically come undone—like getting snapped out of existence by Thanos.
5. SDSS J135246.37+423923.5 Quasar
With relativistic jets traveling at a record-setting 13% of the speed of light, SDSS J135246.37+423923.5 (yes, that’s its name) is the most powerful quasar ever detected. At the center of this unfortunate galaxy is an extremely active supermassive black hole with a mass 2000 times greater than the one that sits at the center of our Milky Way.
The terrifying thing about this quasar is the sheer amount of mass that’s been detected in its jets. It’s essentially consuming all of the fuel and mass in the galaxy–a property scientists have known some supermassive black holes could be capable of.
Our own supermassive black hole has been active in the past, forming the Fermi Bubbles that stretch far above and below the galaxy (as mentioned in our list about 10 More Amazing Facts About Black Holes), though our Sagittarius-A has never threatened the existence of life on Earth.
But if Earth were unfortunate enough to be located in this quasar, it would certainly be doomed, as the forces of the quasar would eventually consume the entire galaxy.
4. Thorne-Zytkow Objects
These things were originally thought to be merely hypothetical objects, that was at least until one was actually discovered. A Thorne-Zytkow object is essentially a star within a star that’s created when a red supergiant consumes a neutron star.
If the thought of something like this doesn’t terrify you, wait until you hear what these objects are actually like.
The neutron star would be surrounded by a ring of superheated gasses, the remains of the red supergiant, generating unusual amounts of rubidium. If neutron stars and magnetars on their own exhibit terrifying properties, then how about adding a massive ring of red supergiant material circling around it?
Of the unusual properties, these Thorne-Zytkow objects possess by far the most deadly would be the strange nuclear fusion properties from the red supergiant’s material constantly falling into the neutron star, as they’re thought to cause bursts of x-rays to flood through the space around the star.
Of the candidates for TZO’s, HV 2112 (an unusually bright supergiant) is probably the most likely candidate, though they can also appear like the Wolf-Rayet star as well.
Given the terrifying power of neutron stars and magnetars, it should come as no surprise to you that you would not want to be anywhere near a TZO.
3. Supermassive Black Hole Collisions
In galaxies where two supermassive black holes are in the process of colliding, it’s far more likely that those black holes will “feed” on the stars that surround them. In our galaxy, something like this might happen every 10,000 to 100,000 years, but during a merger, this could increase to once every 10 to 100 years.
These collisions generate massive tidal disruptions and wreak havoc on everything that orbits them, creating an extremely unstable environment for any star or planet that happens to be unlucky enough to orbit too close.
As established earlier, these flares can have devastating effects that have the potential to extinguish life on nearby exoplanets.
But in addition to these effects, collisions like this also generate massive gravitational waves that can be felt throughout most of the known universe.
2. Anywhere Near a Kilonova
Kilonovae are some of the most powerful explosions in the universe, just under the destructive force that can be caused by supernovae, and they’re caused by two neutron stars colliding. In the moments leading up to the explosion, the neutron star pair will orbit each other at an alarmingly fast rate before finally smashing into each other and causing a devastating explosion.
This collision creates an ultrabright explosion in space that emits x-rays, gamma rays, and produces gravitational waves (something which previously to kilonovae observed since 2008 were only detected in the collisions of supermassive black holes). These explosions will cook pretty much anything that happens to be in the line of sight of either of the neutron star’s poles.
In some rare cases, they can lead to the formation of magnetars and even black holes too.
While an explosion like this was thought to have seeded the forming solar system with gold and other precious metals billions of years ago, if one were to happen anywhere within 1,000 lightyears of our solar system now, we’d be kissing our collective butts goodbye.
1. The Black Widow Pulsar
The Black Widow Pulsar is a nebula where new stars are being formed, creating powerful stellar winds. These stellar winds generate extremely high levels of radiation and strong particle winds. Like a bad omen, from a distance, these bubbles of newborn stars take on the shape of a spider.
Pulsars are extremely compact objects, most of them no bigger than a larger city. These superdense objects contain more mass than our sun, and though they may look like blinking stars from our vantage point on the Earth, they’re not stars at all, but a special type of neutron star that spins on its axis at an insane rate.
These nightmare objects radiate two steady beams of light from their surface as they spin at the alarmingly fast rate of over 600 times per second, like lighthouses on steroids.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, these beams of light emit gamma rays that would, needless to say, cook all life on Earth if it happened to be unlucky enough to be near one of these nightmarish lighthouses of death.