Remarkable Connection Discovered Between Supernovae and Life on Earth

Supernova Accelerates Cosmic Rays

Illustration of the Milky Way seen from Earth where supernova accelerates cosmic rays to high energies. Some of these cosmic ray particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, where they produce shower structures of secondary particles. A surprising result is that changes in cosmic rays throughout Earth’s history has influenced life on Earth. Credit: H. Svensmark/DTU Space

A remarkable link between the number of nearby exploding stars, called supernovae and life on Earth has been discovered.

A study demonstrates a link between supernova frequency and the burial of organic matter in sediments, influencing Earth’s climate, nutrient cycles, and bioproductivity.

Evidence demonstrates a close connection between the fraction of organic matter buried in sediments and changes in supernova occurrence. This correlation is apparent during the last 3.5 billion years and in closer detail over the previous 500 million years.

The correlation indicates that supernovae have set essential conditions under which life on Earth had to exist. This is concluded in a new research article published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters by senior researcher Dr. Henrik Svensmark, DTU Space.

According to the article, an explanation for the observed link between supernovae and life is that supernovae influence Earth’s climate. A high number of supernovae leads to a cold climate with a significant temperature difference between the equator and polar regions. This results in strong winds and ocean mixing, vital for delivering nutrients to biological systems. High nutrient concentration leads to a larger bioproductivity and a more extensive burial of organic matter in sediments. A warm climate has weaker winds and less mixing of the oceans, diminished supply of nutrients, a smaller bioproductivity, and less burial of organic matter.

“A fascinating consequence is that moving organic matter to sediments is indirectly the source of oxygen. Photosynthesis produces oxygen and sugar from light, water, and CO2. However, if organic material is not moved into sediments, oxygen and organic matter become CO2 and water. The burial of organic material prevents this reverse reaction. Therefore, supernovae indirectly control oxygen production, and oxygen is the foundation of all complex life,” says author Henrik Svensmark.

In the paper, a measure of the concentration of nutrients in the ocean over the last 500 Million years correlates reasonably with the variations in supernovae frequency. The concentration of nutrients in the oceans is found by measuring trace elements in pyrite (FeS2, also called fool’s gold) embedded in black shale, which is sedimented on the seabed. Estimating the fraction of organic material in sediments is possible by measuring carbon-13 relative to carbon-12. Since life prefers the lighter carbon-12 atom, the amount of biomass in the world’s oceans changes the ratio between carbon-12 and carbon-13 measured in marine sediments.

“The new evidence points to an extraordinary interconnection between life on Earth and supernovae, mediated by the effect of cosmic rays on clouds and climate,” says Henrik Svensmark.

The Link to Climate 

Previous studies by Svensmark and colleagues have demonstrated that ions help the formation and growth of aerosols, thereby influencing cloud fraction. Since clouds can regulate the solar energy that can reach Earth’s surface, the cosmic-ray-cloud link is important for climate. Empirical evidence shows that Earth’s climate changes when the intensity of cosmic rays changes. Supernovae frequency can vary by several hundred percent on geological time scales, and the resulting climate changes are considerable.  

 “When heavy stars explode, they produce cosmic rays made of elementary particles with enormous energies. Cosmic rays travel to our solar system, and some end their journey by colliding with Earth’s atmosphere. Here, they are responsible for ionizing the atmosphere,” he says.

Reference: “Supernova Rates and Burial of Organic Matter” by Henrik Svensmark, 5 January 2022, Geophysical Research Letters.
DOI: 10.1029/2021GL096376

14 Comments on "Remarkable Connection Discovered Between Supernovae and Life on Earth"

  1. Make this info mainstream or do not ever make it public I have known all this for years and been dismissed as stupid, do it right or not at all.

    • If you have “known this for years” and didn’t publish, then you are stupid indeed.

      It’s more likely that you are a climate change denier desperately clutching at straws you can blame it on – anything other than anthropogenic factors. In that case, it makes you the special kind of moron that wins awards at the village idiot competition.

      • What the Heck?
        I didn’t know that anyone actually denied “climate change.” It seems obvious that anyone who has a modicum of education realizes that climate changes. Even those who only watch children’s cartoons such as ‘Ice Age’ must realize that there was a time when it was much colder than now.

        Actually, it would seem that those who complain about humans being responsible for changing the climate are implicitly suggesting that climate is stable and is only changing because of humans. That sounds to me like a real climate change denier!

        Which raises an important point. Why did the climate change many times before humans even evolved? Perhaps you can acknowledge that things other than anthropogenic CO2 can influence the climate? Then the question becomes, what is the proportional role that each and every potential forcing factor plays? When you can answer that, then you will be in a position to confidently claim that it is only humans that are responsible for climate change. Until then, you are only parroting back what you probably don’t understand.

    • What is the “right” way? The work was published in an open, peer-reviewed journal and obviously has been picked up by secondary sources such as SciTechDaily. What more do you require?

      • Torbjörn Larsson | January 15, 2022 at 2:21 am | Reply

        Well, accepted climate science from climate scientists and not the small fringe that reject – contrary to data – the man made global warming regime we are in now.

        And yes, that makes the OP a “climate change denier” if you don’t spell out the more descriptive term to disempower your “climate change” strawman.

  2. I wouldn’t blame the authors for fools’ thinking you stupid.

  3. Greg’s “known it for years” because the Royal Astronomical Society published a paper by Dr Svensmark in 2012 that provided the basis for this study.

  4. “Empirical evidence shows that Earth’s climate changes when the intensity of cosmic rays changes.”

    Sooo…to slow, stop or reverse the increase in global temperatures that we are currently experiencing, we just need some not-too-nearby-but-also-not-too-far-away star to blow up…

  5. Interesting stuff

  6. I’m just a kid, but @Clyde Spencer, are you denying that humans have any impact on climate crisis? we dumb humans are DEFINITELY doing something making this world worse…

    • I wonder about your reading comprehension. I said, “Then the question becomes, what is the proportional role that EACH and EVERY potential forcing factor plays? When you can answer that, then you will be in a position to confidently claim that it is ONLY humans that are responsible for climate change.”

      I do NOT deny that humans have an impact on measured global temperatures, or even precipitation downwind of major urban centers. I clearly acknowledged that there are SEVERAL potential forcing agents, which includes human activity. However, that isn’t just CO2 from burning fossil fuels. It includes land use changes, and Industrial production of ‘green house gases,’ not the least of which is the byproduct of making cement. There is also the impact of making leavened bread for billions of people daily, and the fermentation of sugars for alcoholic drinks, both of which increase as the population increases! So, the question becomes, once again, what proportional roles do ALL the forcing agents, natural and anthropogenic, play in raising temperatures?

      Why do you assume that we are making things “worse?” Increasing CO2 has increased the vegetative cover of Earth, in part because it allows plants to more effectively use water. Increasing temperature is allowing agriculture to move northward, with no evidence that there is a concomitant loss of acreage in the tropics. No place is becoming uninhabitable because of temperature increases.

      Sea level has always gone up and down throughout geologic time. Currently, the annual increase is an order of magnitude LOWER than the rate at which tectonic plates move over the mantle. Yet nobody gets excited about the role plate tectonics plays in relative sea level.

      I think that you have been brain washed by the Main Stream Media (MSM), which operates under the meme, “If it bleeds, it leads!” There are always two sides to a story. If the MSM, which now includes social media like Facebook and Twitter, suppress any counter facts or arguments, then you are only getting a ‘half-truth.’

      • Torbjörn Larsson | January 15, 2022 at 2:36 am | Reply

        Re “what is the proportional role that EACH and EVERY potential forcing factor plays?” it has been published for years on the globally accepted IPCC site. There is no question that recent man made global warming is man made.

        But other than that, we don’t need a factor analysis any more since the signal correlation with our CO2 release is now at 3 sigma. You can use a spreadsheet program with the data in your own laptop. There are no “counter facts”, only facts – you can have your own “counter” opinion but you can’t have your own facts.

        Speaking of facts, by the way: How do you go from “has been picked up by secondary sources such as SciTechDaily” to the conspiracy theory group “the Main Stream Media” as if media first is on your side and then isn’t?

  7. Torbjörn Larsson | January 15, 2022 at 2:16 am | Reply

    I wouldn’t take notice of this press release push in various science aggregate sites. It’s a single author letter, and the physicist author isn’t a climate scientist but is well known for his long push of a fringe climate hypothesis applied to the current climate extreme regime:

    “He is known for his work on the hypothesis that cosmic rays are an indirect cause of global warming via cloud formation.[2][3][4]” [ ]

    His supernova estimates are reconstructed from a dubious proxy of open cluster passages of the solar system, and are even then highly uncertain. Eye balling that makes him claim correlation, but it isn’t tested.

    Meanwhile we know that man made global warming is just that, with abiotic cloud formation a minor forcing in the by now well tested forcing analyses.

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