Scientists managed to determine the reason for the long ice age on Earth

15.06.2024/23/30 XNUMX:XNUMX    3

For many years, scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of the ice ages that have occurred on Earth for millions of years. A new study published in the journal Nature Astronomy offers a bold theory: These ice ages may have been caused by the collision of the Solar System with an interstellar cloud.

About 2 million years ago, the Earth experienced an era rich in ice ages that lasted until 12 years ago. Until now, it was thought that these ice ages could be caused by internal factors, such as a change in the tilt or rotation of the planet, the movement of lithospheric plates, volcanic eruptions or high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. About this write Phys.

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However, the authors of the new study put forward another, more exotic hypothesis: they believe that the Earth froze not due to internal changes, but due to external influences.

Astrophysicists have found evidence that about 2 million years ago, the Solar System collided with a very dense interstellar cloud. This cloud affected the heliosphere, a giant bubble of plasma that surrounds the Sun and protects Earth from harmful galactic radiation.

Scientists suggest that the collision with the interstellar cloud compressed the heliosphere, briefly leaving Earth and other planets in the solar system without its protection. This, in their opinion, led to a significant cooling of the Earth's climate.

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According to the authors of the study, the movement of the Sun in space can significantly affect the chemical composition of our planet's atmosphere.

To confirm their theory, astrophysicists used computer simulations to recreate the location of the Sun, the heliosphere, and several dense interstellar clouds 2 million years ago. Simulations have shown that a collision of one of these clouds with the heliosphere could have resulted in the Earth being exposed to an interstellar medium rich in various chemical elements, including iron and plutonium.

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This theory is consistent with geological data that indicate an increased content of the isotopes iron-60 and plutonium-244 in the ocean and ice on Earth exactly 2 million years ago.




Scientists note that a similar collision with an interstellar cloud may occur again in 1-2 million years. This research opens a new page in our understanding of ice ages and the influence of cosmic factors on the Earth's climate.