Regardless of how beautiful they might be, supernovae are extremely destructive and dangerous cosmic phenomenons. Killer asteroids like the Chicxulub impactor that wiped out the dinosaurs are practically nothing compared to a supernova. In general, it’s highly unrecommended to get too close to a supernova, but nature is once again eager to show to us that there’s always the exception that proves the rule.
We should be grateful that there’s no supernova too close to our planet, but we might actually be going through the debris of such a cosmic monstrosity. It’s the hypothesis promoted by the Nuclear physicist Anton Wallner fom the Australian National University. But what could he be relying on for such a wild claim?
An isotope of iron had been continuously bombarding the Earth
It was found that for the last several tens of thousands of years, our planet was hit by a rare isotope of iron that can be created within supernovae. More precisely, Wallner has found iron-60 in five samples from deep-sea sediments from locations dating back to 33,000 years ago.
Earth is moving through a region called the Local Interstellar Cloud, which is made up of gas, dust, and plasma. If this cloud was created by supernovae, it should be dusting Earth with rains of iron-60. Wallner and his team were trying to validate this phenomenon by examining the sediments from the ocean.
There are recent papers that suggest iron-60 trapped in dust particles might bounce around in the interstellar medium,
So the iron-60 could originate from even older supernovae explosions, and what we measure is some kind of echo.
The scientists admit that further studies are needed for confirmation of the claim, and we’re eagerly waiting for them.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.