Considering the fact that scientists reasoned a large comet hit the Earth 26 million years ago and destroyed dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, they warned that Earth is not out of danger yet even though the meteor will be hitting and creating large craters at a 26-million-year cycle.
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The scientists noted that the energy of the sun sends a comet that gets too close, careening toward Earth, and such events cause massive mass extinctions – six of which had happened before, nearly 260 million years ago.
The motion of the sun as it passes through the thick section of the Milky Way affect the family of planets in the zone, and the gravitational pull of the Oort Cloud plays a part in the whole scenario. The Oort Cloud is the shell of icy objects on the outer edge of the solar system, and its perturbations send showers of comets hurtling through its inner region to where Earth is, slamming into it.
Professor Michael Rampino from New York University and colleague Professor Ken Caldeira of Carnegie Institution said nobody should be carried away with facts that it will be several million years before another comet hit Earth to cause massive extinctions.
“There is evidence that the comet activity has been high for the last one to two million years, and some comet orbits are perturbed, so we may be in a shower at the present time,” Rampino said. “That would agree with our position near the galactic mid-plane, where perturbations from dark matter would be expected.”
Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up 90% of the universe. It is invisible – does not absorb or emit light, and does not collide with atomic particles but exerts some level of gravitational force in its surroundings.
Having established that the last six mass extinctions timed perfectly with the time of the several craterings of the Earth, both Rampino and Caldeira found that the last asteroid or massive comet that hit Earth did so nearly 65 million years ago at the Yucatan area of Mexico, leading to the deaths of all dinosaurs.
“The correlation between the formation of these impacts and extinction events over the past 260 million years is striking and suggests a cause-and-effect relationship,” Rampino added. “This cosmic cycle of death and destruction has without a doubt affected the history of life on our planet.”
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Details of the study have been published in a paper titled "Galactic disc dark matter, terrestrial impact cratering and the law of large numbers" in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.