Magnetic field reversal and the solar minimum may lead to extinction-level event, study suggests
An international team of researchers suggests that low solar activity and the reversal of the magnetic field together may have cataclysmic effects that can spell the end of life. In a study recently published in the journal Science, the researchers detailed how the decline of the archaic Neanderthals and extinction of megafauna may be linked to the solar minimum a long time ago and the Laschamp excursion, a period around 42,000 years ago in which Earth’s magnetic field temporarily flipped.
Re-examining the impact of a magnetic field reversal
Earth’s magnetic field serves as a protective shield against harmful cosmic radiation. But when it flips, it becomes weaker and leaves the planet exposed to higher levels of radiation. This is the scenario for roughly 1,000 years during Laschamp.
Past studies suggest that this event had little impact on the planet. But according to the researchers, that’s possibly because the focus was not on the period during which the poles were actually shifting.
The researchers then performed radiocarbon analyses of the rings of ancient kauri trees in New Zealand to reevaluate the impact of Laschamp. This allowed them to track over time the rise in atmospheric levels of carbon-14 that was produced by increased cosmic radiation. The researchers then compared these carbon levels with numerous geologic records from all over the world to date significant atmospheric changes around the time.
Analysis showed that an array of major environmental changes happened at the same time carbon-14 levels peaked. Some of those changes include a massive growth of the North American ice sheet, a shift in the western Pacific’s tropical rain belts and a drying out in Australia, said Chris Turney, a professor of earth science at the University of New South Wales and one of the study researchers.
Ice core records also suggest that dips in solar activity, known as the grand solar minima, coincided with Laschamp. Such dips can also have significant effects on the planet as the sun becomes unstable during those periods – it can emit solar flares and coronal mass ejections that bring higher levels of radiation to Earth.
The researchers then used a model to see what would happen if solar activity plummeted at the same time as the magnetic field disappeared. The model showed that the combination of these two events might have depleted the ozone layer and triggered climate shifts, electrical storms and widespread auroras.
The team suspects that these environmental changes potentially accelerated the growth of ice sheets and contributed to the extinction of Australian megafauna and the gradual decline of the Neanderthals. They also linked these changes to the increased use of caves as shelter and the emergence of red ocher handprints for cave art and sunscreen.
“It probably would have seemed like the end of days,” Turney said.
That those seemingly random cosmic events 42,000 years ago appear to be connected led the researchers to call this intricate mosaic of a period the “Adams Event.” The name is a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in his book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” that the number “42” is the answer to the mysteries of the universe.
What happens if the magnetic field flips now?
Some experts believe that Earth’s magnetic field may flip relatively soon. This protective shield already weakened by around nine percent for the past 170 years, and the presence of the South Atlantic Anomaly – a weak spot in the magnetic field just above South America and the South Atlantic Ocean, which has been growing as of late – is further stoking concerns.
If the magnetic field reverses, satellite networks and power grids will be the most affected. Even now when the magnetic field still mostly stable, solar storms are already damaging satellites, causing power outages and interrupting radio communications. In March 1989, for example, a coronal mass ejection triggered a widespread power failure that cut off electrical supply to over six million people in Canada and across the northeastern U.S. for nine hours.
A magnetic field flip can also affect humans and animals. Increased levels of radiation can potentially increase skin cancer cases while animals like bees, whales and turtles that rely on geomagnetism for navigation might not be able to cope with the reversal.
It’s clear that the reversal of Earth’s magnetic field poses a great threat to humanity. Learn more about potential disaster scenarios during a magnetic field flip and other catastrophic events at Disaster.news.
Alien space debris stuck in Earth’s orbit, researchers say
Recently, a group of experts from Harvard University, led by physics
professor Avi Loeb, announced the possible presence of alien space
debris in Earth’s orbit, reports the Daily Star.
space research expert Professor Loeb is confident that the discovery of
such “interstellar objects could help expand our knowledge of possible
alien civilizations and technologies. A team of scientists is conducting
research to confirm that some of the objects in our orbit may be
connected to other star systems.
During an interview with Live
Science, Professor Loeb explained that these objects could enter the
solar system from interstellar space, defying Jupiter’s gravitational
pull and occupying limited orbits around the sun.
Some of them may
have technological origins similar to the probes sent by mankind into
interstellar space, such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11
and New Horizons.
despite these interesting assumptions, Professor Loeb did not specify
what specific objects he was talking about. In his research report, he
notes that there could be “a significant number” of potentially
detectable objects in Earth’s orbit.
To confirm their assumptions,
the team of scientists uses computer simulations and the Vera Rubin
Observatory (Chile) with a high-resolution camera of 3.2 billion pixels.
This will allow for regular observations of the Southern sky and the
possibility of detecting several captured objects about the size of a
It is assumed that these interstellar objects passed through the
boundaries of the solar system and may carry unique information about
other civilizations and their technologies. If we could confirm the
origin of these objects, the mysteries that open before us, this would
be a real breakthrough in space exploration.
expresses hope that the new research will not only help expand our
knowledge of extraterrestrial technologies, but may also lead to the
discovery of new alien civilizations . Answers to such questions can be
of global significance and influence our understanding of the place of
mankind in the Universe.
while there are still many questions and assumptions, the study by
Professor Loeb and his team opens a new chapter in space exploration.
Each new discovery can be the key to deciphering the mysteries of the
cosmos and the possibility of encountering alien life forms.
Betelgeuse is acting strange again
Betelgeuse, a red giant on the brink of death, continues to show
unusual behavior. After the Great Blackout, which occurred in late 2019
and early 2020, the star became unusually bright. It is now the seventh
brightest star in the sky, while it normally ranks tenth. This has led
to speculation that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode in a
spectacularly large supernova.
However, scientists believe it’s too early to tell, and it’s likely
that this behavior is due to ongoing fluctuations after the Great
Blackout of 2019, and the star will return to normal within a decade.
Betelgeuse is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It is
about 700 light-years from Earth and is a red giant in the last stage of
its life. It is also an unusual star for a red giant because it was
previously a monster blue-white O-type star, the most massive class of
Betelgeuse has changed its spectral type because it has almost
exhausted its hydrogen reserves. It now burns helium into carbon and
oxygen and has expanded to a gigantic size: about 764 times the size of
the Sun and about 16.5 to 19 times its mass.
Eventually it will run out of fuel to burn, become a supernova, eject
its outer material, and its core will collapse into a neutron star.
Before the Great Blackout, Betelgeuse also had periodic fluctuations
in brightness. The longest of these cycles is about 5.9 years and the
other is 400 days. But it seems that the Great Blackout caused changes
in these oscillations.
A new paper by astrophysicist Morgan McLeod of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has shown that the 400-day
cycle appears to have been halved. This pulsational cycle is probably
caused by expansion and contraction within the star. According to
simulations carried out by MacLeod and his colleagues, the convective
flow inside Betelgeuse may have risen and become material that separates
from the star.
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