We already know that there have been five mass extinctions on Earth, and what we learned from them is that life on Earth is hard to wipe out entirely. Every time, life managed to recover and thrive. However, we are not safe as an apocalypse from space might come any time. Here are five space event that can trigger a new mass extinction.
Ethan Siegel, a Ph.D. astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, and also a Forbes contributor, came up with a list of five apocalyptic events that could end the life on Earth as we know it, even though it would find a way to thrive once again.
5 Space Events That Can Trigger A New Mass Extinction
Asteroid or comet impact
About 65 million years ago, the Chicxulub asteroid hit the Earth and triggered the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Another space rock might collide with our planet in the future, even though the space agencies around the world are currently working on solutions to defend the Earth against potential impactors.
In 4479, however, the comet Swift-Tuttle might collide with the Earth, and it would carry a destructive force by 28 times higher than the Chicxulub asteroid.
It might not be the regular apocalyptic space event, but a gamma-ray burst headed towards the Earth might destroy our ozone layers, leaving the planet without protection against solar winds and cosmic radiations.
But, the chances for a gamma-ray burst event to trigger a new mass extinction are of only one in a million.
Rogue stars, planets, or black holes
Another space event that might cause a new mass extinction is the encounter between us and rogue stars, planets, or black holes that travel through the galaxy.
Even though the odds of a star to pass close to Earth at 1 AU are 1-in-a-billion, if that would happen, our planet will be ejected from its orbit by the star’s gravitational forces, something that would entirely wipe out the life on Earth without any chances to recover.
A supernova in our vicinity
Many supernovae occurred in the Universe, and some of them happened in our vicinity. However, none of them endangered us. But, in case a type-2 supernova occurs at a distance of below 25 light years from us, our planet would be irradiated by the explosion.
Besides any space event in the deep Universe, the Sun can also terminate the life on Earth. In about 2 billion years from now, our host star will present an incredible energy output. That would literally boil the water on our planet, causing a new mass extinction.
In comparison with all the other apocalyptic space events presented above, we know for sure that the Sun will bring doomsday in approximately 2 billion years from now.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.