For preview only. Get it at

The Death Star

2001 ,    » 19 Comments
Ratings: 5.78/10 from 9 users.

The Death StarOut in deepest space lurks a force of almost unimaginable power. Explosions of extraordinary violence, are blasting through the Universe every day. If one ever struck our Solar System it would destroy our Sun and all the planets.

For years no one could work out what was causing these awesome explosions. Now scientists think they have identified the culprit. It’s the most extreme object ever found in the Universe; they have christened it a 'hypernova'.

Cold War cosmology. The mystery began in 1967. A US military satellite was launched to detect Soviet nuclear tests which the Pentagon believed were secretly taking place on the dark side of the Moon. Instead, the satellite picked up evidence of explosions far bigger than any bomb. Something was emitting bursts of gamma rays – the deadliest form of energy known – on a massive scale. What was worse, these blasts just kept on coming.

Breaking the law. For decades scientists were baffled. Especially disturbing was evidence that these explosions might be coming from the furthest reaches of the Universe, billions of light years away. If this was so, then for us to see them on Earth they had to be on a scale that was beyond our comprehension. According to some, these explosions were so huge that they might even violate the most sacred law in all science: Einstein’s famous equation relating mass and energy, E=mc². That law underpins nothing less than our understanding of how our Universe works.

Live fast, die young. It was not until 1997, when a satellite pinpointed the exact location of these bursts, that scientists began to solve the puzzle. It seems these huge explosions are caused by the death throes of stars twenty times the size of our Sun, which burn themselves out and explode, creating hypernovae. What then unfolded was a chain of events, which would ultimately point towards some of the most exotic wonders in the Universe: stellar nurseries (where new stars are born) and black holes.

Observations show that – instead of fading away, as an explosion might be expected to – radiation continues to emerge from the area of a hypernova. This ongoing emission is characteristic of the process of star birth. Astronomers conclude that the hypernova grows rapidly along with other normal stars in a nursery, but burns out when its contemporaries are still in their infancy.

Pointing to the past. Find a hypernova, therefore, and you have also tracked down a part of space where stellar synthesis is underway. Which is why some scientists now believe that the huge explosions of hypernovae may be the key to unlocking one of the great unsolved mysteries in the Universe: how the first stars were made at the very dawn of time.

More great documentaries

19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Danby

    Did anyone notice the conan the destroyer music at 9:20 or so in the documentry. Its from the scene in the wizards tower.

  2. Larry_Moe
  3. Larry_Moe

    @ Danby. Interesting choice of music in this doc. I would have thought the music at 9:20 sounded familiar, but wouldn't have correlated it to anything. I read your comment prior to watching the vid btw. Amazing how far we have come since...

  4. griffin
  5. griffin

    @ 23:28 it's the predator music.. wow what a great soundtrack!!!

  6. duuude!!
  7. duuude!!

    ...."I am so~scared!"....

  8. Spock
  9. Spock


  10. John J
  11. John J

    The wonder of light traveling through time just blows me away. To think, when we look at the sun one moment, we're seeing it as it was 8 minutes ago, almost seems far fetched. So when seeing these gamma-rays coming from 10,000,000 light yrs away, therefore seeing back 10 mil. years, would be incomprehensible. What will we discover beyond 10 mil. years? I only wish I could be here when all these questions are answered.

  12. keith
  13. keith

    awesome doc and i am very excited for what the future holds for every living organism as a whole. It definitely would seem that we are all "One" in what is an infinite body known as existence.Some would dare to even say "God".

  14. Misa Amane
  15. Misa Amane

    If we actually "saw" God, would we even recognize Him? I doubt it.

  16. Matt Kukowski
  17. Matt Kukowski

    You guys realize that the Music track is from CONAN the BARBARIAN? Funny huh ... no joke.

  18. Sieben Stern
  19. Sieben Stern

    too short >_< i require at LEAST 4 hours of star talk to be satisfied!

  20. simonm
  21. simonm

    i see God ewery day, when i look in the mirror, stop this bu++hit
    God thing. If i talk to you about the universe every sunday from the beginning of your life till now, you would probably belive in the universe also.

  22. James Colwell
  23. James Colwell

    how can you recognize something you've never seen...

  24. Quinton Beaudry
  25. Quinton Beaudry

    no we wouldnt but we would be fast to crucify him.... come on we did it to his son why not him ?

  26. Todd Tolnai
  27. Todd Tolnai

    Do you think any of us (meaning humans) will be here in 10 million years?

  28. Laurence Vanhelsuwe
  29. Laurence Vanhelsuwe

    So many assumptions.. so many assumptions. Mankind is finding its collective intellect clearly very stretched when forced to fathom phenomena at the extreme scales of things like the whole universe, or the so-called quantum subatomic scale. It's essential that theories are supported by numbers, and measurements, but I firmly believe that we're going to face lots of scientific revolutions in years ahead, when time and time again, we're going to have to accept that our cherished current theories do, in fact, not match reality. Hopefully the neutrinos-faster-than-light observation will be shown not to be in error, and usher in an age of increased humbleness, increased openness for the fact that we're very puny brains faced with an infinite universe. Science is too noble to allow it be turned into religion.

  30. lex lexich
  31. lex lexich

    why not? even today there is a chance that we could survive a meteor catastrophe or atomic war for that matter (at least several people would survive)

  32. Todd Tolnai
  33. Todd Tolnai

    Of course there's a chance for anything and everything. And owing to our population numbers, I'm sure you're right that several people would survive those types of disasters. My point was that one of the general truths to all life is that no species lives forever; and with our tendencies as a species to even accelerate our own doom, I feel I'm safe in saying that I doubt we'll still be here in 10 million years.

  34. Iain Sinclair
  35. Iain Sinclair

    why use such thinking process! its the ORGASM of universe....and a black hole is a squirting orgasm from a cosmic vag!! and i, for one....LOVE IT!!

  36. docoman
  37. docoman

    I thought it was an interesting watch.

Leave a comment / review: