The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events

Sloan, David and Batista, Rafael Alves and Loeb, Abraham (2017) The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events. Scientific Reports, 7. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Much attention has been given in the literature to the effects of astrophysical events on human and land-based life. However, little has been discussed on the resilience of life itself. Here we instead explore the statistics of events that completely sterilise an Earth-like planet with planet radii in the range 0.5–1.5R ⊕ and temperatures of ∼300 K, eradicating all forms of life. We consider the relative likelihood of complete global sterilisation events from three astrophysical sources – supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, large asteroid impacts, and passing-by stars. To assess such probabilities we consider what cataclysmic event could lead to the annihilation of not just human life, but also extremophiles, through the boiling of all water in Earth’s oceans. Surprisingly we find that although human life is somewhat fragile to nearby events, the resilience of Ecdysozoa such as Milnesium tardigradum renders global sterilisation an unlikely event.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Scientific Reports
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1000
Subjects:
ID Code:
131126
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
11 Feb 2019 12:20
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2020 04:45