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Ancient Cosmic Explosions Might Have Impacted Evolution

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Robert Woodward
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Millions of years ago, a pair of exploding stars showered our planet with radioactive fallout.

Had those supernovae popped off a bit closer to home, Earth s biosphere would have been toast.

But even at a distance of 300 light years, the stellar events might have had an impact on the evolution of life here.

The idea that astrophysical phenomena, including black hole x-ray flares and supernovae, can shake up life on Earth enough to direct evolution has been around for a while.

And when a crop of scientific studies published in Nature and Science this past April presented evidence for two nearby back-to-back supernovae toward the end of the Pliocene, scientists immediately began discussing potential impacts on Earth s climate and biology.

Now, the hypothesis that there were impacts has gotten a boost from a computer modeling study, which estimates how much additional radiation life on Earth was dosed with following the cosmic fireworks.

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Robert Woodward
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