Did exploding stars help life on Earth to thrive?

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The biosphere seems to contain a reflection of the sky, in that the evolution of life mirrors the evolution of the Galaxy.

Svensmark has put out a blockbuster of a paper, if it holds up. He’s using a correlation between nearby supernova and biological diversity in the fossil record, after accounting for other factors which affect the biodiversity of the Earth. I’m going to read the paper several times before saying more…

A statistical analysis indicates that the Solar system has experienced many large short-term increases in the flux of Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) from nearby SNe. The hypothesis that a high GCR flux should coincide with cold conditions on the Earth is borne out by comparing the general geological record of climate over the past 510 Myr with the fluctuating local SN rates. Surprisingly, a simple combination of tectonics (long-term changes in sea level) and astrophysical activity (SN rates) largely accounts for the observed variations in marine biodiversity over the past 510 Myr.

 

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