Six theories about cosmic events that could wipe out life on Earth debunked


When you take into consideration the size of our universe, the Earth can seem really small and insignificant.

Compared to our sun alone, Earth is already just a small blue dot, but our sun is just one of at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy, which itself is just one of the approximately 100 billion galaxies in the small fraction of the universe that we have. discovered so far.

In all this vast space filled with dangerous flying rocks and gigantic fireballs, there must be millions of things that could go wrong and bring down the entire cosmos in a split second.

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The very sun our planet depends on to sustain life could one day be the death of all of us.

The universe has been around for about 14 billion years, while the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. So far we have been very lucky, but any of the following cosmic events could lead to the total destruction of our planet.

1) Solar flares

From time to time, bursts of energy from the surface of the sun reach Earth and are intercepted by our planet’s atmosphere, but if any of these streams of radiation prove to be too powerful, it could cause geomagnetic storms that would lead to global blackouts and consequent global chaos as food and medicine stocks deteriorate.

We’ve seen an increase in solar activity in recent years, and while it poses a risk to our power grids and satellites, NASA science communications manager Karen C. TSTIME dismissed the suggestions. that a solar flare could roast the Earth, claiming that even the largest solar flares are “not powerful enough to physically destroy the Earth”.

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2) Gamma rays

A narrow beam of energy caused by a nearby binary star system or a supernova could potentially reach Earth and eradicate our ozone layer, leaving us exposed to harmful UV rays from the sun. WR 104, a star system about 5,200 to 7,500 light-years distant, could potentially send a beam of gamma rays in our direction at any time, but the beam could also miss us completely.

Scientists from NASA and the University of Kansas, teaming up in September 2003, suggested that a mass extinction on Earth around 450 million years ago could have been triggered by a gamma-ray burst, although this hypothesis was not supported by evidence. Dr Adrian Melott, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas, said: “We don’t know exactly when it arrived, but we’re pretty sure it arrived and left its mark. What is most surprising is that a mere 10-second burst can cause years of devastating ozone damage.”

3) Asteroid or comet

A comet impact is already thought to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, and another impact on a similar scale could also lead to our extinction. A direct impact could lead to multiple natural disasters such as tsunamis, wildfires, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and leave the few remaining humans slowly dying due to the planet becoming inhospitable to life.

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Fortunately for us, asteroids or comets large enough to cause this level of destruction only occur once every 100 million years. NASA said it is not currently aware of any asteroids or comets currently on a collision course with Earth, so the likelihood of a major collision is “pretty low”, adding “no large objects are likely to hit the Earth anytime for the next hundred years.”

Burning asteroid moving through Earth.
A comet has already wiped out life on Earth. Could this happen again?

4) Black hole

The gravity of a black hole in outer space is so strong that not even light can escape, and some black holes floating around the universe could potentially wander into our solar system, leaving Earth untouched. no chance of escaping. A black hole as big as the moon would almost certainly mean total destruction, while even a black hole the size of a grain of sand could cause huge problems.

But David Kornreich, a professor in the Department of Physics at Cornell University, reassured us that black holes are not as dangerous as we claim. Describing the popular image of a black hole as inaccurate, he said: “Black holes, even the one at the center of our galaxy, are very small. Only if you get very close to the horizon of events of a black hole that it starts pulling everything in. So no, most of the galaxy won’t end up falling into the hole.”

5) Death of the Sun

The sun is about halfway through its lifespan, but it still has a few billion years to go before it starts to run out of hydrogen and fuses helium, causing it to expand as part of its slow death. Earth would either be pulled towards the sun and incinerated, or pushed out of orbit, leaving it to freeze.

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If it’s any consolation, humanity will likely be long extinct by the time the sun dies and turns into a red giant, with the journal Nature Astronomy predicting that won’t happen for another 10 billion years. Meanwhile, humans only had an extra billion years to survive before they died.

6) Collision with a rogue planet

Rogue planets, like planets that don’t orbit stars and seem to lurk aimlessly in space, are thought to outnumber stars in the Milky Way by 100,000. This means that there are many rogue planets that could pass through our solar system and potentially crash into our planet, which would undoubtedly bring about the end of the world as we know it.

But bringing the good news is Richard Zeebe, a physicist from the University of Hawaii, who has run 1,600 simulations of the future of the universe on a supercomputer, and not once has Earth been struck by another planet. He said: “None of the 1,600 solutions has led to a close encounter involving Earth or destabilization of Earth’s orbit in the future. I conclude that Earth’s orbit will be dynamically very stable for billions of years into the future, despite the chaotic behavior of the solar system.”

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