A new study showed that a supernova that occurred 2.6 million years ago could have caused climate change and provoked the mass extinction of large marine animals, including Megalodon.
On Sunday in an interview with Xinhua, Adrian Melott, an honorary professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, said that one or more supernovae could occur at a distance of about 150 light years from Earth.
A supernova is an explosion of a star that has reached the end of its life. It can eclipse whole galaxies for a short time and emit more energy than the Sun in its entire life. It is also the main source of heavy elements in the universe.
According to NASA, the supernova is the biggest explosion people have ever seen.
Melotte, lead author of an article just published in Astrobiology, said that three types of seabed sediments, including iron isotopes-60, provided "data on the origin of supernovae."
Iron 60 had no other way to reach Earth, except from supernova, he said.
Melot's team has been engaged in research in this area for about 15 years.
Supernova energy, which spreads iron-60 layers throughout the world, also caused particles called muons to penetrate the Earth’s shower, causing cancer and mutations, especially for larger animals.
“We calculated that the incidence of cancer will increase by about 50 percent for a person the size of a person. And the more it is, the worse. For an elephant or a whale, the radiation dose increases, ”he said.
The supernovae 2.6 million years ago may be associated with the extinction of marine megafauna at the Pliocene – Pleistocene border, where an estimated 36 percent of the genera have become extinct.
"High-energy muons can penetrate deeper into the oceans, being a more significant agent of biological damage with increasing depth," the document says.
“One of the disappearances that occurred 2.6 million years ago was Megalodon,” said Melotte. “We can assume that this may have something to do with muons. In fact, the larger the creature, the greater the increase in radiation. ”