Star explosion near Earth may have triggered an ICE AGE – study

Star explosion near Earth may have triggered an ICE AGE – study

Scientists have found evidence that a star up to 25 times the size of the Sun underwent a massive supernova 2.5 million years ago. The star was close enough to Earth that scientists have been able to find traces of the explosion on our planet.

Star explosions lead to the formation of iron, manganese and other heavy elements.

Experts from the Technical University of Munich have found layers of iron-60 and manganese-53 in the ocean floor which date back roughly two and a half million years.

Manganese which forms on Earth is manganese-55, whereas manganese-53 usually forms from cosmic dust and is in abundance in the asteroid belt, according to the research published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Both the elements are isotopes formed in the nuclear reactor of a star and were blasted out into the cosmos when the star in question underwent an explosive death.

According to the team, the presence of both of these elements was enough to confirm a star near to our solar system exploded.

The study’s first author Dr Gunther Korschinek said: “The increased concentrations of manganese-53 can be taken as the ‘smoking gun’ – the ultimate proof that this supernova really did take place.

“This is investigative ultra-trace analysis. We are talking about merely a few atoms here.

“But accelerator mass spectrometry is so sensitive that it even allows us to calculate from our measurements that the star that exploded must have had around 11 to 25 times the size of the Sun.”

While the star would have been close in astronomical terms, thankfully it was far enough away that it would not have caused damage to life on Earth with an intense burst of radiation.

However, the experts believe it could have been responsible for triggering an ice age on our planet through the release of cosmic rays which would have bombarded Earth for thousands of years after the event.

Cosmic rays can boost the growth and formation of cloud condensation nuclei, which are the seeds of cloud formation in the atmosphere.

More clouds in the atmosphere lead to less sunlight reaching the surface, which in turn cause temperatures to drop.

Co-author Dr Thomas Faestermann said: “This can lead to increased cloud formation.

“Perhaps there is a link to the Pleistocene epoch, the period of the Ice Ages, which began 2.6 million years ago.”

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