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CosmosUp | February 27, 2020

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5 Global Catastrophic the Earth will Experience in the Future

By | On + -

Gamma Ray Burst
~600 Million Years

If a major impact event every couple of hundred million years isn’t bad enough, Earth also has to contend with incredibly infrequent Gamma-ray bursts – streams of ultra-high energy radiation typically emitted from hypernovae.

Although we are bombarded by weak Gamma-ray bursts daily, a burst originating from a nearby system – within 6500 light years away – has the potential to wreak havoc for anything standing in its way. With more energy than the Sun will ever produce in its lifetime raining down upon Earth within period of minutes or even of seconds, Gamma-ray bursts can calmly strip away large portions of the earth’s ozone layer, triggering radical climate change and extensive ecological damage, including mass extinctions.

It is believed by some that a Gamma-ray burst prompted the second largest mass extinction in history: the Ordovician-Silurian event, 450 million years ago, which eradicated 60% of all life.

Like all things in astronomy, however, pinning down exactly when the unlikely set of event that leads to a Gamma-ray burst directed at Earth will occur is difficult, although typical estimates place it at between 0.5 and 2 billion years from now. But it could be as soon as a million years, should the threat from Eta Carinae be realised.

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