Don't freak out, but an unstable star a mere 8,000 light years away could go supernova at any time, sending a massive gamma ray burst hurtling toward Earth, possibly destroying the ozone layer and blasting half of the planet with deadly radiation. WR 104 is what's known as a Wolf-Rayet star, and "Wolf-Rayet stars are regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs," a researcher tells Space.com.
The good news: The gamma rays would shoot out in a relatively narrow beam along the star system's axis. The bad news: We appear to be more or less directly on that axis. "I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can't help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel," says an astronomer.