A supernova explosion may have caused a massive extinction of species on earth some 2.59 million years ago. At least, that is how the evidence fits together to reveal the reason behind this mass extinction.
A supernova explosion that took place very far away in the universe may have had an effect on the fate of the species on earth some 2.59 million years ago.
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The new study regarding this has clearly pointed in this direction as far as the proof is concerned. Very speedy, highly charged particles termed cosmic rays were radiated outwards by the supernova at the time of its rupturing into smithereens.
These may have been responsible for a mass extinction of species between the Pliocene and the Pleistocene epochs.
Way back than, large parts of Africa became drought-ridden and quite a major portion of the thick luxuriant forests became savannah land. It was during and after this period in prehistory that the Ice Ages began to appear.
These times of glaciation occurred in rapid succession for some unknown reason. Although it has been speculated that they were occurring due to the cosmic rays, the exact mechanism that triggered them off remains a mystery wrapped within an enigma.
Computerized methods were used to decipher how cosmic rays affected the earth’s climate and the “grandeur of life forms” found on it. Supernovas normally happen when a star much larger than our sun dies off or when a white dwarf explodes.
The sort of supernovas that occurred over 300 light years from our home planet were studied in depth by the scientists. These supernovas exploded twice in recent times when seen from the vantage point of a universal time scale.
Once a flare-up occurred 6.5 million to 8.7 million years ago. Another conflagration occurred 1.7 million to 3.2 million years ago.
The latter burst of energy may have caused the mass extinction on earth. The night skies were probably cast over with blue light thanks to these supernova explosions far away.
This led to various species having their sleep patterns go topsy turvy for weeks on end. Also a large dose of radiation hit the various life forms on earth thereby ruining their health.
The high-energy cosmic rays were the culprits in this cataclysm. Their presence in the universe is a rarity. These cosmic rays can disrupt many things at the subatomic level.
They wreaked havoc on the large variety of species on the earth. The consequences were cancers and mutations. This lasted for a millennium. After this instability, life slowly picked up where it left off and things went back to normal.
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The findings of this study got published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.