Biological implications of high-energy cosmic ray induced muon flux in the extragalactic shock model

Dimitra Atri, Adrian L. Melott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A ∼62 My periodicity in fossil biodiversity has been observed in independent studies of paleontology databases over ∼0.5Gy. The period and phase of this biodiversity cycle coincides with the oscillation of our solar system normal to the galactic disk with an amplitude ∼70 parsecs and a period ∼64 My. Our Galaxy is falling toward the Virgo cluster, forming a galactic shock at the north end of our galaxy due to this motion, capable of accelerating particles and exposing our galaxy's northern side to a higher flux of cosmic rays. These high-energy particles strike the Earth's atmosphere initiating extensive air showers, ionizing the atmosphere by producing charged secondary particles. Secondary particles such as muons produced as a result of nuclear interactions are able to reach the ground and enhance the biological radiation dose. Using a Monte Carlo simulation package CORSIKA, we compute the biological dose resulting from enhanced muon exposure from cosmic rays and discuss their implications for terrestrial biodiversity variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL19203
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume38
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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