Supernovae triggered mass extinction 359 million years ago on Earth

A new study has revealed how Supernovae could have triggered devastating mass extinction some 359 million years ago. The supernovae are only 65 light years away from the Earth.

During the time of Late Devonian extinction, 50 per cent of all genera, groups of species were wiped off. The worst impacted species included jaw-less fish, reef-building ‘rugose’ corals and the trilobites.

The study conducted by US-based researchers has studied the boundary in the rock record between the Devonian and the next period, the Carboniferous. In their study the team has also cancelled out the other space-based events that could have potentially caused ozone depletion.

Brian Fields, one of the researchers and astronomer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said, “We propose that one or more supernova explosions, about 65 light-years away from Earth, could have been responsible for the protracted loss of ozone. Earth-based catastrophes such as large-scale volcanism and global warming can destroy the ozone layer too, but evidence for those is inconclusive for the time interval in question.”

Emphasising on how such a thing has less chances of causing ozone depletion, another researcher and astronomer Jesse Miller, said, “These events end quickly and are unlikely to cause the long-lasting ozone depletion that happened at the end of the Devonian period”.