Supernovae change the climate and have a surprising effect on life on Earth

Extremely powerful eruptions related to the evolution of stars or supernovae seem closely related to the evolution of life on our planet.

Or so he suggests The article is available at Geophysical Research Letters, which describes the relationship between the amount of visible organic matter in sediments and the frequency of supernovae. This association occurred in the past 3.5 billion years, and is particularly evident over the past 500 million years.

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According to Henrik Svensmark and colleagues, supernovae alter the Earth’s climate. They lead, inter alia, to the emergence of temperature differences between the equator and the polar region, which in turn translate into strong winds and mixing of ocean waters. This latter phenomenon is essential to supplying ecosystems with nutrients. Increases biological productivity and the amount of organic matter that ends up in the sludge.

Supernovae are the explosions of stars resulting from their evolution

Conversely, warmer climates are associated with weaker winds and less visible ocean mixing. As a result, the amount of nutrients is lower – so is the vital productivity. Obviously there is less organic matter that precipitates with this. Evidence for the relationship between supernovae and life on Earth is supported by evidence covering the deposition of nutrients in the oceans over the past 500 million years. Members of the research team noticed a correlation between the occurrence of cosmic eruptions and the amount of these deposits.

How is the amount of nutrients in the oceans measured? Scientists usually do this by measuring the trace elements in pyrite found in shale on the sea floor. By measuring the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12, scientists are able to estimate the amount of organic matter. This is more common with carbon 12.


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Previously collected data indicated that the Earth’s climate changes when the amount of cosmic rays reaching our planet increases or decreases. The frequency of supernova explosions can vary by several hundred percent over geologic time scales, and related changes are noticeable even from today’s perspective. This is because cosmic rays produced by supernovae reach the solar system, collide with the Earth’s atmosphere and ionize it. This can translate into changes in cloud formation, which in turn regulate the amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth’s surface and affects its climate.

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