Without solar superstorms, Earth could have been an uninhabitable gaseous ‘mini-Neptune’

main eruption zoom
Solar flare. Image credit: NASA

Gigantic solar storms may have helped strip unwanted gases from the Earth’s atmosphere, while helping to seed its surface with the chemicals for life, scientists say. The storms may also have set in motion chemical reactions that helped keep the Earth and Mars warm enough for liquid water early in their histories, when the Sun was putting out 30 percent less energy than it is today.

[T]he early Earth might have swept up enough hydrogen and helium during its formation to have had a fairly substantial hydrogen/helium “envelope” that would have been “inimical” to habitability. If it had remained, [astrophysicist Vladimir Airapetian] says, the Earth might have become a gaseous “mini-Neptune,” rather than the planet we know today.

Related article:  Here’s why children learn languages more easily than adults

Lower down, radiation from solar superstorms could have set off cascades of collisions that would have smashed molecules and left a wake of ionized particles extending deep into the atmosphere, says NASA researcher Guillaume Gronoff. Of particular importance, he says, is that these particles would have carried enough energy to break up molecules of nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide, water, and methane.

Many of the exoplanet systems currently being studied, however, are around stars that generate considerable numbers of flares. That means that conditions on their planets might be more like those on the early Earth than in our present Solar System.

Read full, original post: Solar superstorms may have helped set stage for life

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend