Science

Study: Dark Matter May Have Contributed To Past Mass Extinctions

Here's a fun fact for you: 99% of the species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct now. Most of those extinctions are the result of a failure to adapt to changing environmental situations, as well as cataclysmic events, like sudden climate change and asteroid impacts. Fossil records show that these mass extinctions tended to happen every 20 to 30 million years. Interestingly enough, it's similar to the amount of time it takes our sun to bob up and down through the galactic disc. So what does that have to do with anything?

Along the line of the galactic plane, there are clouds of dust and gas that could disturb debris within our solar system and send it flying every which way. And according to a new study, dark matter may also influence these actions.

As described in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, our solar system passing through these concentrated regions of gas and dust, and the exposure to dark matter, could cause the planet's core to heat up somewhat, thus effecting geological systems and triggering mass extinction events.

It's also possible that dark matter particles get caught in our plant's gravitational pull and eventually begin to accumulate in the core. These particles would then start to destroy each other, causing incredible amounts of heat, thus increasing the heat of the core several hundred degrees Celsius. Over the course of a million years, this heart could bubble up toward the surface, triggering volcanic eruptions or climate change.

The cause of past mass extinctions is still somewhat of a mystery, but it might be that dark matter has played an integral in past extinction events.

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