Photo: Gamma-Ray Burst Caused Mass Extinction?



Gamma-ray bursts are thought to be streams of high-energy radiation produced when the core of a very massive star collapses, as seen in the above artist's rendering.

An April 2009 paper suggests that a gamma-ray burst aimed at Earth may have caused a mass extinction event 440 million years ago, and that a similar celestial catastrophe could happen again.

Illustration courtesy NASA/CXC/M.Weiss


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