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It came from outside the solar system and started the ice age on Earth

It came from outside the solar system and started the ice age on Earth

According to new research, the thing causing major climate change on our planet came from outside the solar system.

Two million years ago, a strange and fateful encounter occurred: The solar system encountered a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust, causing climate changes so great on Earth that they contributed to the formation of the Ice Age, according to new research. any Live Science reported.

According to current assumptions, when the solar system passed through this cloud, the protective plasma bubble created by the solar wind, the heliosphere, was compressed, which means that the Earth was left unprotected against the harsh conditions of interstellar space: With this, we must understand the various radiations, and in the first place The first is galactic rays. As a rule, these are blocked by the heliosphere.

When all this happened, the first humans on Earth were living with prehistoric animals like mastodons and saber-toothed tigers. At that time, the Earth would have already had an ice age behind it, which ended about 12,000 years ago, but the latter was due to more “traditional” factors: the planet’s tilt angle, its rotation, the level of carbon dioxide, and geological activity.

A study led by Merav Ofer of Boston University used sophisticated computer models to track the position and movement of the solar system two million years ago. Based on the models, the solar system may have traveled through a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust, mainly through the so-called “local bar of cold cloud” strip, which is part of the larger “local bar of cold cloud” system. . So it was this cosmic encounter that could temporarily reduce the protective ability of the heliosphere, so that the Earth and other planets were exposed to the effects of the interstellar medium. As Ofer said:

“This study is the first to quantitatively show that an encounter between the Sun and something outside the solar system affected Earth's climate.”

This cosmic encounter may explain the presence of certain isotopes, such as iron-60 and plutonium-244, found in Antarctic ice cores and lunar samples, which are associated with increased periods of interstellar dust deposition. The temporary compression of the heliosphere coincides with a cooling period on Earth two million years ago. According to Over's team, this frozen history with the local lynx of the cold cloud could last from a few hundred years to a million years, depending on the size of the cloud. But after this period, the heliosphere expanded again, so the shield protecting our planet was restored.

All of this is interesting in itself, but according to Ofer, this is just the beginning: with further research, the ultimate goal is to understand how interstellar phenomena affect our planet's climate and evolution on Earth.

(Image used for this article was created by DALL-E)

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