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


LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less