Did a supernova trigger the late Devonian extinction?

SOUBRETTE/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Cosmic rays

In a recent preprint, Brian Fields of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and colleagues propose a new explanation, arguing that a supernova could have caused the Hangenberg Crisis. Supernovae are exploding stars that release vast quantities of high-energy photons including UV light, X-rays, and gamma rays. These photons are known to collide with interstellar gas, which accelerates charged particles to create cosmic rays.

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Logan Chipkin

Logan Chipkin

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Writer for Quillette, Areo, Physics World, and others| Science, history, philosophy, and economics | @ChipkinLogan www.loganchipkin.com