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Supernovae next to Earth?


Scientists found out when and where there were supernovae close to Earth

A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Dieter Breitschwerdt from the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Faculty II of TU Berlin answered a question that has long been bugging astronomers: Have there been star explosions next to Earth? And if yes, when did they occur? 

Together with scientists from the University of Heidelberg's Center for Astronomy and from the Department of Mathematics of the University Evora, Professor Breitschwerdt and his team were able to show that 16 such supernovae happened in close proximity to Earth over the last 13 million years. They used elaborate modeling and simulation computations to account for the occurrence of 60Fe, a radioactive iron-isotope that is only created by fusion in giant stars and supernovae. The isotope is an indicator for the distance and times of the explosions. 

Their results were published in the Nature issue from April 7, 2016 together with a second article by a team of researchers led by Dr. Anton Wallner from the Australian National University, who measured the amount of 60Fe occurring in the ocean floor.

Link to Nature article



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