2 nearby exploding stars might have had some surprising effects on our planet


supernova exploding star illustration nasa


Sometimes, when a massive star reaches the end of its life, its
core collapses in on itself, causing an epic explosion that can
light up the entire sky.

If this explosion happens close enough to our planet, it
can bombard us with high-energy radiation.

A new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters
explores the effects
of two exploding stars
, or supernovae, that
occured somewhere between 1.7 to 3.2 million and 6.5 to
8.7 million years ago.

The scientists used computer models to follow the radiation
down through the earth’s atmosphere to find out its effects,
as well as how much of it actually reached the

What they found was surprising.

Bathing in cosmic radiation

According to their models, at first, the explosions would have
caused blue light in the night sky “brilliant
enough to disrupt animals’ sleep patterns for a few weeks
said a University of Kansas press release.

Then, the explosion would have exposed our atmosphere and biology
to a “long-lasting gush of cosmic radiation.” For
hundreds to thousands of years, this radiation would have
increased by a factor of a few hundred.

This boost in radiation would have had “substantial effects on
the terrestrial atmosphere and biota,” the authors wrote in the
study, causing as much as a 20-fold increase in irradiation by
cosmic particles at Earth’s surface. This would just about triple
the radiation dose that creatures at ground level would be
exposed to.

Melott said this radiation would have packed doses equivalent to
one CT scan per year for every creature living on land
and in shallow parts of the ocean. This increase in
radiation would have been high enough to boost the mutation rate
and frequency of cancer, as well as possibly speed up evolution.

An era of lightning

As the radiation poured down on Earth, it would have ionized the
atmosphere, tearing apart atoms and molecules, so that electrons
were running around by themselves, kind of like gas inside
fluorescent tube.

This would conduct electricity easier, so scientists think that
there’s a good chance that the rate of lightning may have
increased a lot during the hundreds to thousands of years
that cosmic radiation was hitting Earth.

This could have caused more wildfires and could have potentially
changed the climate of the planet. In fact, the more recent
explosion coincides with a minor mass extinction around 2.59
million years ago.

“There was climate change around this time,”Adrian Melott,
professor of physics at the University of Kansas and co-author
the new paper, said in a press release
. “Africa dried out,
and a lot of the forest turned into savannah. Around this time
and afterwards, we started having glaciations — ice ages
— over and over again, and it’s not clear why that started
to happen. It’s controversial, but maybe cosmic rays had
something to do with it.”

What comes next

The next step is for scientists to look at the geological record
around the time of the more recent explosion, and see if there
were more things like wildfires and mutations.

At the time of the study, the scientists believed the explosions
both happened about 300 light years away, but new results that
have come out since the paper was published that suggest that one
of the explosions might have happened at about half that
distance. So, the scientists also plan to redo their models with
that shorter distance. They expect that the effects will be even

Even though these explosions might have transformed life on Earth
at that time, you shouldn’t be too worried about their effects on

“This is not something for people to worry about for the
immediate future,” Melott said. “Events like this only come along
over long time periods of millions and millions of years.”

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Yep, people are now kayaking into the ocean to win gyms in ‘Pokémon Go’


Too far is not far enough when it comes to Pokémon Go.

Ever since the augmented reality mobile game launched in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. last week, players have been dealing with the consequences of avid Pokémon fandom: Some have apparently gotten fired, while others are kayaking into bodies of water in the middle of winter to capture gyms for Team Blue.

Pokémon Go requires players to explore their surroundings, searching for rare Pokémon and battling for control of gyms. As it turns out, those gyms can be located in some hard to reach places. 

On Sunday local time, a Twitter user in Wellington, New Zealand, who goes by the handle Pokéfan Libby noticed a pretty inaccessible gym located by a fountain in Wellington Harbour. 

It wasn’t too far for two intrepid individuals, however, who had decided to kayak out to the fountain to do battle.

That pair was Kelsey Thomson and Lizzy Eden, both 24, who describe themselves as “longtime Pokémon fans.”

They spotted the hard-to-get to gym, then held by Team Yellow, in Wellington Harbour during a Pokémon hunt Thursday evening. “We didn’t get home till about 11:30 and we both work full time,” Thomson told Mashable Australia. “We saw the gym in Wellington Harbour and were like ‘we have to get this.'”

To make the half-hour paddling journey one way, they hired a kayak. “The guy that hired the kayaks out to us was actually on Team Yellow … so he was a bit like ‘maybe I won’t hire them out to you,'” she laughed. 

Thomson and Eden had no idea someone was live tweeting their exploits, and were shocked when Thomson’s tweet about the victory later blew up. “We’ve been laughing all day at the ridiculous response,” she said. 

Thomson said she planned to continue mixing Pokémon Go with adventure, as she’s training to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in November. “I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of simultaneous Pokémon-hunting and training trips,” she added.

Tragically, Team Yellow has now retaken control of the gym. “Team Yellow has a boat. One of them owns a boat, so that’s not fair,” Thomson said.

Honestly, has a mobile game ever made this many people go outside at once?

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