Exploding Stars May Have Caused Mass Extinction on Earth

By UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, NEWS BUREAU

Re-Blogged From WUWT

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Imagine reading by the light of an exploded star, brighter than a full moon – it might be fun to think about, but this scene is the prelude to a disaster when the radiation devastates life as we know it. Killer cosmic rays from nearby supernovae could be the culprit behind at least one mass extinction event, researchers said, and finding certain radioactive isotopes in Earth’s rock record could confirm this scenario.

A new study led by University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Brian Fields explores the possibility that astronomical events were responsible for an extinction event 359 million years ago, at the boundary between the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.

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IMAGE: A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS LED BY PROFESSOR BRIAN FIELDS HYPOTHESIZES THAT A SUPERNOVA ABOUT 65 LIGHT-YEARS AWAY MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE OZONE DEPLETION AND SUBSEQUENT MASS EXTINCTION OF THE… view more CREDIT: GRAPHIC COURTESY JESSE MILLER

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