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Supernova dinosaur extinction

Supernova dinosaur extinction

E446/0367

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Credit

JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Supernova dinosaur extinction. Artwork of a bright supernova in the night sky behind a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur. One theory uses a nearby supernova explosion to explain why dinosaurs went extinct around 65 million years ago. A supernova results from a massive star collapsing, prompted by the destabilisation of the internal nuclear fusion reaction that prevents such a collapse by emitting light and heat energy. The destabilisation occurs as the star runs out of fuel. A massive explosion results, and sends high-energy radiation out into space. If the supernova occurred within about 130 light years of Earth, then this radiation may have prompted a mass extinction of life on Earth.

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