Disc dark matter in the galaxy and potential cycles of extraterrestrial impacts, mass extinctions and geological events

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A cycle in the range of 26-30 Myr has been reported in mass extinctions, and terrestrial impact cratering may exhibit a similar cycle of 31 ± 5Myr. These cycles have been attributed to the Sun's vertical oscillations through the Galactic disc, estimated to take from ~30 to 42 Myr between Galactic plane crossings. Near the Galactic mid-plane, the Solar system's Oort Cloud comets could be perturbed by Galactic tidal forces, and possibly a thin dark matter (DM) disc, which might produce periodic comet showers and extinctions on the Earth. Passage of the Earth through especially dense clumps of DM, composed of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) in the Galactic plane, could also lead to heating in the core of the planet through capture and subsequent annihilation of DM particles. This new source of periodic heating in the Earth's interior might explain a similar ~30 Myr periodicity observed in terrestrial geologic activity, which may also be involved in extinctions. These results suggest that cycles of geological and biological evolution on the Earth may be partly controlled by the rhythms of Galactic dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1816-1820
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume448
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015

Fingerprint

mass extinction
dark matter
extinction
galaxies
cycles
comets
comet
Oort cloud
biological evolution
heating
rhythm
cratering
weakly interacting massive particles
clumps
showers
solar system
periodicity
planets
periodic variations
sun

Keywords

  • Comets
  • Disc
  • General - earth - galaxy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

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title = "Disc dark matter in the galaxy and potential cycles of extraterrestrial impacts, mass extinctions and geological events",
abstract = "A cycle in the range of 26-30 Myr has been reported in mass extinctions, and terrestrial impact cratering may exhibit a similar cycle of 31 ± 5Myr. These cycles have been attributed to the Sun's vertical oscillations through the Galactic disc, estimated to take from ~30 to 42 Myr between Galactic plane crossings. Near the Galactic mid-plane, the Solar system's Oort Cloud comets could be perturbed by Galactic tidal forces, and possibly a thin dark matter (DM) disc, which might produce periodic comet showers and extinctions on the Earth. Passage of the Earth through especially dense clumps of DM, composed of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) in the Galactic plane, could also lead to heating in the core of the planet through capture and subsequent annihilation of DM particles. This new source of periodic heating in the Earth's interior might explain a similar ~30 Myr periodicity observed in terrestrial geologic activity, which may also be involved in extinctions. These results suggest that cycles of geological and biological evolution on the Earth may be partly controlled by the rhythms of Galactic dynamics.",
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