'Magnetar' Is Born

Halfway across the galaxy, scientists have found a strange star that in one split-second burst released as much energy as the sun does in 10,000 years, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone.

"That total energy is gigantic," says Professor Umran Inan. "Its one of the largest -- if not the largest -- explosions in the universe."

The explosion sent off a surge of gamma rays and X-rays that bombarded Earth at the end of August.

The discovery of this gamma ray burst blasting into the Earth's atmosphere was not made by astronomers but by electrical engineers at Stanford University.

Usually they study the night sky looking for lightning but this time they found a flash of energy like no one has ever measured before.

In a news conference Tuesday, NASA announced that the explosion revealed the existence of a powerful new kind of star that's like a massive magnet -- its been dubbed a "magnetar."

The magnetar's massive explosion produced enough energy to power life on earth for a billion years. If it were closer, the energy might have been enough to end life on Earth.

Reported by John Blackstone
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