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Ancient Supernova Radiation Set the Forest Fires that Evolved Footloose Humans?

Ancient Supernova Radiation Set the Forest Fires that Evolved Footloose Humans?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 June 2019

 

ASTRO-ANTHROPOLOGY?

Tycho Supernova Remnant
Tycho Supernova Remnant four centuries after the brilliant star explosion, MPIA/NASA/Calar Alto.
How the Tycho Supernova (more) looks four centuries after the brilliant massive star explosion witnessed by Tycho Brahe and other astronomers of that era. Image credit: MPIA/NASA/Calar Alto Observatory.
Also see the Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant.

 

Supernova Cosmic Radiation sets Forest Fires that Evolved Footloose Humans?

Researchers wonder if Ancient Supernovae prompted Human Ancestors to Walk Upright,
University of Kansas, May 28, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Hella Light Show
"Supernovae bombarded Earth with cosmic energy starting as many as 8 million years ago, with a peak some 2.6 million years ago, initiating an avalanche of electrons in the lower atmosphere and setting off a chain of events that feasibly ended with bipedal hominins such as homo habilis, dubbed "handy man."

Nearby Supernova
"Based on a "telltale" layer of iron-60 deposits lining the world's sea beds, astronomers have high confidence supernovae exploded in Earth's immediate cosmic neighborhood -- between 100 and only 50 parsecs (163 light years) away -- during the transition from the Pliocene Epoch to the Ice Age."

The Nearby Supernova
"We calculated the ionization of the atmosphere from cosmic rays which would come from a supernova about as far away as the iron-60 deposits indicate."

The Big One
Sky on Fire Light Show
"It appears that this was the closest one in a much longer series. We contend it would increase the ionization of the lower atmosphere by 50-fold. Usually, you don't get lower-atmosphere ionization because cosmic rays don't penetrate that far, but the more energetic ones from supernovae come right down to the surface -- so there would be a lot of electrons being knocked out of the atmosphere."

Ground Fire, Too
"...atmospheric ionization probably triggered an enormous upsurge in cloud-to-ground lightning strikes that ignited forest fires around the globe. These infernos could be one reason ancestors of homo sapiens developed bipedalism -- to adapt in savannas that replaced torched forests in northeast Africa."

NEXT?
Nearest Red Giant
"...no such event is likely to occur again anytime soon. The nearest star capable of exploding into a supernova in the next million years is Betelgeuse, some 200 parsecs (652 light years) from Earth."

"Betelgeuse is too far away to have effects anywhere near this strong."

 

Bottom Line

I am a skeptic. I must admit that global fires would profoundly effect the evolution of life on this planet, affecting how things have turned out today. But, it seems to be a stretch too far, to specifically link the human evolution of bipedalism to the fallout from a Supernova explosion, without more, and much more convincing evidence.

But, it is interesting to find the fingerprints of a nearby, ancient Supernova touching our evolution.

Nonetheless, it is apparent that this ancient Supernova was not close enough to have sterilized our planet, nor far enough away to have had no effect at all, so it is likely to have had some profound effects on everything alive back then, if not being responsible for thrusting us onto our bipedal path of world domination...

 

 

Supernova Research

The Evolution of Everything
Star Operations, Supernova Explosions, & Neutron Star Collisions: How Elements are Created

 

DEEP SPACE: Furthest, Brightest, Oldest Supernova News

 

Two Neutron Stars Orbiting: The Origin of Binary Neutron Stars

 

Astrophysics news supernova first light: amateur observes exploding massive star

 

Astrophysics News: Nailing Down the Cosmological Constant with Gravity Lensed Supernovas?

 

Focusing The Nature of Reality: Hubble Telescope Sharpens Hubble Constant

 

 

Astro-Physics News

May 2018 News of Man & Nature

 

 

 

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