Due to their possible effects on Earth’s climate, supernovae have been viewed as potential killers and linked to past extinction events.

That may not be the whole story, however. A new study by Professor Henrik Svensmark of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) suggests that supernovae are, on balance, good for life on Earth.

Examining the geological and astronomical record for the past 500 million years, Prof. Svensmark found that the diversity of the Earth’s ecosystem tended to be greater in eras when nearby supernovae were plentiful. Prof. Svensmark hypothesizes that this is because the colder climate caused by cosmic rays results in a greater variety of habitats between polar and equatorial regions and creates stress that prevents ecosystems from becoming locked into fixed patterns.

The picture is mixed, however. While supernovae have generally had positive effects on Earth’s biosystem, Svensmark says they have also caused prolonged glacial periods and sudden falls in sea level by 25 meters or more.


Written by Astro1 on April 30th, 2012 , Planetary Defense, Space Medicine and Safety

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    A starry Guy commented

    apparently there is one happening right this very moment, 5/1/2010 12:02 am NFDST

    April 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm
      A starry Guy commented

      eta aquariids

      April 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm
        A starry Guy commented

        if Im correct, in 8 days it will be further up from the horizon and missing, I reported it to the Royal Astronomical Society in France last year right after I witnessed the light from the initial explosion myself. With My bare eyes no less. No a joke at all.

        April 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm