Astrophysics and Extinctions: News About Planet-Threatening Events

October 8, 2011

Luke 17:26-30 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the Day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

“Christ was revealing that just as they took no note worthy view of the warnings back in those days of judgment, neither will they do so in these last days of this age. The end will come as a thief in the night to them because they will not heed the healthful urgency of what is about to happen. I know from my own personal experience with Noah that he was laughed and scoffed at like he was a simple minded idiot for even suggesting that the earth could be flooded. You will also be treated in a like fashion by the majority. But fear of dying at Armageddon will not be enough to save a person. They must be sincere in why they seek Father. Otherwise, Christ will still bar them from the kindness of Salvation. He is permitted to judge their true heart conditions.” Commander Jaddai, Cherubic Order of Holy Angels

ScienceDaily (Oct. 7, 2011) — Space is a violent place. If a star explodes or black holes collide anywhere in our part of the Milky Way, they’d give off colossal blasts of lethal gamma-rays, X-rays and cosmic rays and it’s perfectly reasonable to expect Earth to be bathed in them. A new study of such events has yielded some new information about the potential effects of what are called “short-hard” interstellar radiation events.

Several studies in the past have demonstrated how longer high-energy radiation bursts, such as those caused by supernovae, and extreme solar flares can deplete stratospheric ozone, allowing the most powerful and damaging forms of ultraviolet radiation to penetrate to Earth’s surface. The probability of an event intense enough to disrupt life on the land or in the oceans becomes large, if considered on geological timescales. So getting a handle on the rates and intensities of such events is important for efforts to connect them to extinctions in the fossil record.

“We find that a kind of gamma ray burst — a short gamma ray burst — is probably more significant than a longer gamma ray burst,” said astrophysicist Brian Thomas of Washburn University. Improved and accumulated data collected by the SWIFT satellite, which catches gamma ray bursts in action in other galaxies, is providing a better case for the power and threat of the short bursts to life on Earth.

The shorter bursts are really short: less than one second long. They are thought to be caused by the collision of two neutron stars or maybe even colliding black holes. No one is certain which. What is clear is that they are incredibly powerful events.

“The duration is not as important as the amount of radiation,” said Thomas. If such a burst were to happen inside the Milky Way, it its effects would be much longer lasting to Earth’s surface and oceans.

“What I focused on was the longer term effects,” said Thomas. The first effect is to deplete the ozone layer by knocking free oxygen and nitrogen atoms so they can recombine into ozone-destroying nitrous oxides. These long-lived molecules keep destroying ozone until they rain out. “So we see a big impact on the ozone layer.”

Those effects are likely to have been devastating for many forms of life on the surface — including terrestrial and marine plants which are the foundation of the food web.

Based on what is seen among other galaxies, these short bursts, it seems that they occur in any given galaxy at a rate of about once per 100 million years. If that is correct, then it’s very likely that Earth has been exposed to such events scores of times over its history. The question is whether they left a calling card in the sky or Earth’s geological record. – ScienceDaily

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