A shower of matter from space millions of years ago could have led to drastic changes in the Earth’s climate, followed by the extinction of life on a massive scale, which also killed off the dinosaurs. This at least is a theory put forward by scientists from the University of Bonn. Normally, the solar wind acts as a shield against showers of cosmic particles, which prevents too many energy-rich particles from raining down on our atmosphere. Since 1997 scientists from Bonn, funded by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG), have been examining how and why this gigantic shield works.
They were the undisputed masters of a whole geological era until they suddenly disappeared 65 million years ago. ‘Perhaps Earth just became too damp and too cold for dinosaurs at that time,’ Professor Hans Jörg Fahr from the Bonn Institute of Astrophysics and Extraterrestrial Research surmises. The reason for the sudden change in climate could have been excessive pressure on our cosmic umbrella.
The solar system does not stand still, in fact it orbits the centre of the Milky Way once every 250 million years. In the process it also passes through dense clouds of interstellar matter, which causes problems for the solar wind and thus for the Earth. Whereas the solar wind normally protects the Earth from a hail of interstellar particles like a huge bullet-proof vest, there are then suddenly up to a hundred times more particles raining down into the earth’s atmosphere at enormous speeds. On impact they smash the air molecules into electrically charged fragments. These function as condensation nuclei on which droplets of water form. “The result is dense cloud cover with greater precipitation and sinking temperatures,” says Professor Fahr, who bases his remarks on research worldwide.
Professor Hans Jörg Fahr | alphagalileo
World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
A close-up look at an uncommon underwater eruption
11.01.2018 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
22.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
22.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering