Study: Earth is moving through the remains of ancient supernovae

Fareeha Arshad

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Scientists have discovered a massive cloud of radioactive dust below the oceanic waves: suggesting that the planet could be passing through the remains of an exploded star. For thousands of years, the Earth has been experiencing contact with the iron isotope, iron-60, that is usually created in supernovae. Researchers believe that this could be because we are passing through an interstellar cloud of dust that goes back to millions of old supernovas.

Iron-60 is a unique element. Because of its half-life of over 2.5 million years, it takes over 15 million years to decay off completely. This hints that it cannot have survived so long since the formation of Earth, and therefore the iron-60 dust must have come from outer space. According to researchers, the iron debris could have been showered on the planet from supernovae over 2.5 to 6 million years ago.

However, a recent study has discovered that the iron-60 shower could have happened in the past couple of decades. In addition, the Advanced Composition Explorer of NASA also detected the same iron isotope in the space close to the Earth’s surface, hinting that the Earth is passing through a region in space referred to as the Local Interstellar Cloud.

Researchers speculate that if the Local Interstellar Cloud is the reason behind the iron-60’s presence on the planet’s surface, there should have been a sudden surge in the isotope’s level as the Earth entered the cloud. Thus, scientists believe this could have happened in the past 33,000 years.

The authors of the recent study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ further recorded that the supernovae debris and the Local Interstellar Cloud could have been purely coincidental, suggesting that the cloud may not be the remains of the supernova at all.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

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