Did Exploding Stars Help Life On Earth Thrive?
Research by a Danish physicist suggests that the explosion of massive stars – supernovae – near the Solar System has strongly influenced the development of life. Professor Henrik Svensmark of the Technical University of Denmark sets out his novel work in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
When the most massive stars exhaust their available fuel and reach the end of their lives, they explode as supernovae, tremendously powerful explosions that are briefly brighter than an entire galaxy of normal stars. The remnants of these dramatic events also release vast numbers of high-energy charged particles known as galactic cosmic rays (GCR). If a supernova is close enough to the Solar System, the enhanced GCR levels can have a direct impact on the atmosphere of Earth.