Exploding Stars Helped Life Thrive on Earth

Throughout the history of our solar system, the sun's proximity to exploding supernovae has had an important influence on the development of life on Earth, says a new study out of Denmark. 

What's the Latest Development?


A new study out of Denmark suggests that the proximity of supernovae explosions to our solar system has greatly affected the success of life on Earth. Looking at how frequently the sun encountered open star clusters as it moved through a spiral arm in the Milky Way, Henrik Svensmark, a professor at the Technical University of Denmark, found that the variety of life on Earth has been most plentiful when supernovae explosions occurred nearby. "The biosphere seems to contain a reflection of the sky, in that the evolution of life mirrors the evolution of the Galaxy," he said.

What's the Big Idea?

High supernovae rates have been associated with colder climates throughout Earth's geological history, which are thought to bring "a greater variety of habitats between polar and equatorial regions, while the associated stresses of life prevent the ecosystems becoming too set in their ways." When stars go supernovae, the explosions release highly charged particles known as galactic cosmic rays which are strong enough to have a direct impact on Earth's atmosphere. The study's data also show a strong link between cosmic rays and climate variation, which heavily influences biological diversity. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less