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Researchers consider whether supernovae killed off large ocean animals at dawn of Pleistocene


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Sciencerocks

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Researchers consider whether supernovae killed off large ocean animals at dawn of Pleistocene
December 11, 2018, University of Kansas
 

Researchers consider whether supernovae killed off large ocean animals at dawn of Pleistocene
Muons showering Earth may have spelled curtains for Megalodon, a school-bus-sized shark, 2.6 million years ago. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

About 2.6 million years ago, an oddly bright light arrived in the prehistoric sky and lingered there for weeks or months. It was a supernova some 150 light years away from Earth. Within a few hundred years, long after the strange light in the sky had dwindled, a tsunami of cosmic energy from that same shattering star explosion could have reached our planet and pummeled the atmosphere, touching off climate change and triggering mass extinctions of large ocean animals, including a shark species that was the size of a school bus.

The effects of such a supernova—and possibly more than one—on large ocean life are detailed in a paper just published in Astrobiology.

"I've been doing research like this for about 15 years, and always in the past it's been based on what we know generally about the universe—that these supernovae should have affected Earth at some time or another," said lead author Adrian Melott, professor emeritus of physics & astronomy at the University of Kansas. "This time, it's different. We have evidence of nearby events at a specific time. We know about how far away they were, so we can actually compute how that would have affected the Earth and compare it to what we know about what happened at that time—it's much more specific."

 

Read more at: https://phys.org/new...s-dawn.html#jCp


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