Solar Superflares May Have Sparked Life by Warming Earth
Solar Superflares May Have Sparked Life by Warming Earth

Solar Superflares May Have Sparked Life by Warming Earth, Report

The Earth is warmed by Solar superflares? Earth could have grown warm enough for liquid water as far back as 4 billion years ago thanks to massive and frequent solar flares.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that solar radiation — rather than meteor impacts — may have kindled organisms in Earth’s primordial soup.

The results could also explain why Earth was not entirely icebound at a time when the sun was only 70 per cent as bright as it is today — a mystery dubbed the “faint young sun paradox” after it was raised by astronomer Carl Sagan more than 40 years ago.

The scientists used the Kepler Space Telescope to study stellar storms on young sun-like stars. They calculated that beams of charged particles from the early sun would have been more than 10 times as strong as today’s solar flares — which can take out power grids — and could have bombarded the Earth on a daily basis.

Modelling suggested these radiation beams would have prised open gaps in Earth’s magnetic field, allowing charged gas particles to penetrate the atmosphere and change its chemical composition.

The reactions would have transformed molecular nitrogen high in the atmosphere into the “potent” greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, the report says. The gas would have floated to lower altitudes, trapping heat close to the planet’s surface.

Molecular nitrogen is fairly inert and requires a lot of energy to make it react, the paper says. Jolts from lightning, ultraviolet light and meteorites may not have generated enough nitrous oxide to keep the Earth warm.

The reactions would also have produced hydrogen cyanide, which the team describes as essential for life. “Chains of these compounds are known to produce various amino acids,” said Cornell University planetary scientist Ramses Ramirez, who was not involved in the study.

“Along with other nitrogen-bearing products of the atmospheric reactions, (they) could have helped to fertilise early surface biology.”

Dr Ramirez said the findings could also influence scientists’ understanding of other planetary systems, as well as the early Earth’s neighbours.

“Geological evidence suggests that Mars was also paradoxically warm and wet around the same time,” he said.

A study published last week offered new evidence that the red planet had a vast ocean about 3.8 billion years ago.


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    One comment

    1. This article has to be wrong! Every body knows only humans can cause climate change. Aint that right Libbies?

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