Trillions of Miles Away – Distant Supernovae May Impact the Diversity of Life on Earth

Supernova Biodiversity Illustration

The extraterrestrial processes responsible for influencing the diversity of life forms are usually invisible to the human eye. The Milky Way is where large stars explode, leading to supernova remnants whose shock fronts accelerate cosmic ray particles to high energies. Cosmic rays find their way to the solar system, where some collide with the atmosphere producing cascades of secondary particles which ionize the atmosphere. Ions influence the formation of clouds which ultimately affect climate. Therefore, changes in supernova activity change climate, which is responsible for mixing and transporting life’s essential nutrients to the ecosystems. Credit: Henrik Svensmark, DTU Space

A new study published in Ecology and Evolution by Henrik Svensmark of DTU Space has shown that the explosion of stars, also known as supernovae, has greatly impacted the diversity of marine life over the past 500 million years.

The fossil record has been extensively studied, revealing significant variations in the diversity of life forms throughout geological history. A fundamental question in evolutionary biology is identifying the processes responsible for these fluctuations.

The new research uncovers a surprising finding: the fluctuation in the number of nearby supernovae closely corresponds to changes in biodiversity of marine genera over the last 500 million years. This correlation becomes apparent when the marine diversity curve is adjusted to account for changes in shallow coastal marine regions, which are significant as they provide habitat for most marine life and offer new opportunities for evolution as they expand or shrink. Thus, alterations in available shallow marine regions play a role in shaping biodiversity.

“A possible explanation for the supernova-diversity link is that supernovae influence Earth’s climate,” says Henrik Svensmark, author of the paper and senior researcher at DTU Space.

“A high number of supernovae leads to a cold climate with a large temperature difference between the equator and polar regions. This results in stronger winds, ocean mixing, and transportation of life-essential nutrients to the surface waters along the continental shelves.”

Variations in Relative Supernova History Graph

Variations in relative supernova history (black curve) compared with genera-level diversity curves normalized with the area of shallow marine margins (shallow areas along the coasts). The brown and light green curves are major marine animals’ genera-level diversity. The orange is marine invertebrate genera-level diversity. Finally, the dark green curve is all marine animals’ genera-level diversity. Abbreviations for geological periods are Cm Cambrian, O Ordovician, S Silurian, D Devonian, C Carboniferous, P Permian, Tr Triassic, J Jurassic, K Cretaceous, Pg Palaeogene, Ng Neogene. Credit: Henrik Svensmark, DTU Space

The paper concludes that supernovae are vital for primary bioproductivity by influencing the transport of nutrients. Gross primary bioproductivity provides energy to the ecological systems, and speculations have suggested that changes in bioproductivity may influence biodiversity. The present results are in agreement with this hypothesis.

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

Supernovae and Climate

When heavy stars explode, they produce cosmic rays, which are elementary particles with enormous energies. Cosmic rays travel to our solar system, where some end their journey by colliding with Earth’s atmosphere. Previous studies by Henrik Svensmark and colleagues referenced below show that they become the primary source of ions help form and grow aerosols required in cloud formation.

Since clouds can regulate the solar energy reaching Earth’s surface, the cosmic-ray-aerosol-cloud influences climate. Evidence shows substantial climate shifts when the intensity of cosmic rays changes by several hundred percent over millions of years.

Reference: “A persistent influence of supernovae on biodiversity over the Phanerozoic” by Henrik Svensmark, 16 March 2023, Ecology and Evolution.
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.9898

3 Comments on "Trillions of Miles Away – Distant Supernovae May Impact the Diversity of Life on Earth"

  1. When I study as much of the new types of scientific theories, technologies, and discoveries. I can’t understand why any scientist could ever believe anything other than the fact that it wasn’t even possible for existence to have been able to plan for, then design, and then create its own self! The fine tuning of such naturally occurring oscillating frequency creation energy laws, from the micro quantum particle/wave level of energy force field power concentration/consumption, and their finely tuned cooperation/consumption with one another! all the way up to the cosmically connected galactic macro sections of existence of the extensively massive, explosive universe! Forces my simple mind to be able to plainly see that there absolutely had to be some kind of masterfully creatively creative original energy force field multiplyer! For such naturally occurring oscillating frequencies in existence to be so cooperatively finely tuned! How can anyone with a higher level of intellectual brain capacity, ever be able to believe that existence was somehow able to create its own self?????????? That’s what I can’t understand!!!!!!!! Because personally, I can’t help but see some kind of an architectural grand blueprint designer in all of the naturally occurring laws of such an exquisitely extensively finely tuned cosmologically galactic interactive existing cosmos itself!

    • You are correct!
      A self-sufficient, self-renewing design.
      One consciousness, one life, many iterations and permutations popping up for an individual experience. The mycelium of the Universe and like mushrooms, we appear, then gone. Stars appear, then gone.
      Nothing and no one has ever died, only transformed…. like the supernovae, the ejecta settles into new stellar systems with time and help from ALL the forces in play.

  2. James Macintyre | May 21, 2023 at 6:01 pm | Reply

    Nothing begins or ends in the universe except definitions. It’s just stuff going about it’s business, transforming from one perceived state to another perceived state. The only thing that truly changed is the definition.

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