Supernova triggered one of Earth's five great extinctions: study

A supernova 65 light-years from Earth likely triggered the late Devonian Extinction, according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    2020/09/02

NSFW    CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS — Scientists from the University of Illinois propose that a supernova approximately 65 light-years from Earth likely triggered the Late Devonian Extinction, one of the five great mass extinction events in our planet's history.

According to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors propose that cosmic rays from the supernova could have bombarded the Earth for up to 100,000 years.

The study's researchers found radioactive isotopes that could have been created in the supernova and plant spores deposited in rocks from the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary that appeared to have been damaged by ultraviolet radiation.

The authors hypothesize that cosmic rays from the supernova could have continuously depleted the ozone layer and caused harmful radiation to damage life on Earth, leading to the mass extinction.

The Devonian Period lasted from 419 million to 359 million years ago. It is often known as the "Age of Fishes." The first insects, forests and tetrapods also appeared during the Devonian.
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