Cosmic-ray volleys from the galactic center and their recent impact on the earth environment
- Cite this article as:
- Laviolette, P.A. Earth Moon Planet (1987) 37: 241. doi:10.1007/BF00116639
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It is proposed that outbursts of cosmic ray electrons from the Galactic Center penetrate the Galaxy relatively undamped and are able to have a major impact on the Solar System through their ability to vaporize and inject cometary material into the interplanetary environment. It is suggested that one such ‘superwave’, passing through the Solar System toward the end of the Last Ice Age, was responsible for producing major changes in the Earth's climate and for indirectly precipitating the terminal Pleistocene extinction episode. The high concentrations of 10Be, NO3−, Ir and Ni observed in Late Wisconsin polar ice are consistent with this scenario. The intensities of the Galactic nonthermal radio background and diffuse X-ray emission ridge are shown to vary with Galactic longitude in the same manner as electron intensity along the proposed superwave ‘event horizon’. The high luminosities and unusual structural features which characterize the Crab Nebula and Cassiopeia A are shown to be attributable to the fact that these remnants happen to coincide with this event horizon and are being externally impacted by an intense volley of relativistic electrons travelling from the Galactic Center direction. The same cosmic ray volley is also shown to be able to account for the unusual structure of the extended radio source CTB 80.