Dark matter, the mysterious, invisible pseudo-material that makes up a large portion of the known Universe, could possibly be responsible for a future massive extinction on Earth. According to scientists, a large comet slammed into the Earth 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs. This event paved the way for land mammals to become the dominate species that roamed the Earth for eons, thus giving humans a presence on Earth. Though, scientists are now asking what exactly sent the gigantic comet towards the Earth. A new study has come out this week that hypothesizes that the theory of dark matter may be the one to blame for causing the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and could lead to the end inevitable of humankind.
Professor Michael Rampino, a biologist at New York University, published his study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that stated the Earth’s travels through the Milky Way Galaxy’s galactic disc, combined with the high concentration of the mysterious dark matter within the galaxy may have contributed to the disturbance of stellar material. This disturbance caused by dark matter, he said, could have sent comets on a war path with the Earth in previous eons.
Rampino explained that Earth’s history is riddled by massive extinctions, many of which are still very hard to explain. He said that dark matter is now theorized to make up around 25 percent of the Universe and he believes it may hold the answer to these galactic tragedies.
The Milky Way Galaxy is a less than bulbous stellar body, with a flat disk of stars and solar bodies. The Solar System orbits, vertically, in one of the crowded arms of the galaxy. As the Solar System has a predictable path through the galaxy it means that around every 30 million years the Earth and the Solar System passes through the “busy section” and the dark matter, therein, causes a possible agitation of the comets in the Oort Cloud, the icy outer edge of the Solar System. Incredibly, dark matter, according to Rampino, can collect, in a way, in the Earth’s core, causing it to heat up, thus leading to more volcanic eruptions and other geological turmoil. Moreover, it means the encounters with this part of the galaxy and the higher concentrations of dark matter in the area could possibly cause more extinctions on Earth.
Rampino has a large suspicion that the extinction over 65 million years ago that wiped out over 90 percent of life on Earth was possibly caused by the perturbation of comets by dark matter when the Solar System passed through the Milky Way’s disc. Furthermore, he says there may be a correlation between spikes in sea levels with the galactic passes – occurring once every 30 million years.
While his hypothesis is riveting, the evidence he builds his theory upon is yet to be called convincing. It is tough to find a clear, hard-hitting correlation between a high concentration of dark matter with comet impacts and massive extinctions. Though it has yet to be fully understood, the notion that the Solar System’s wayward motion through the Milky Way can directly affect the Earth is truly astonishing. Rampino believes as scientists continue to understand the mysterious ways of dark matter, it will allow them to analyze whether or not his theory has any merit. Such an understanding of dark matter could inevitably be the saving grace the human race needs to counteract another massive extinction.
By: Alex Lemieux