One researcher from NYU says that our solar system’s passing through the galactic plane brings death and destruction to Earth
Dark matter killed the dinosaurs. Maybe. At least, NYU’s Michael Rampino is proposing that it’s possible.
Here’s how it works: Over many, many millions of years, our solar system orbits the center of the galaxy. But its path is not perfect— it oscillates up and down during its long journey. Every 25 to 30 million years, it passes through the dust disk on the galactic plane. Coincidentally, every 25 to 30 million years, Earth experiences an extinction event, often via asteroid impact or volcanic changes.
Rampino’s hypothesis is that the solar system’s movement through the galactic plane hurtles objects from the outer reaches of the solar system toward Earth, and that something stirs up the volcanoes. One of his biggest proposed culprits is dark matter, the elusive, unseen material that makes up much more of the universe than ordinary matter does.
Essentially, the hypothesis holds that a series of weakly interacting particles could pass through the crust of the Earth and interact with the inner layers. By spiking core activity, it could rile up seismic events, leading to volcanic eruptions on the surface above that cause the death of a large number of species (usually the megafauna.)
So this could have been what killed the dinosaurs: Dark matter sent an asteroid on a collision course toward Earth while riling up the Earth’s core and causing the surface to erupt in volcanic fury. The skies darkened, plant life faltered, and the dinosaurs pretty much died off.
Keep that in mind the next time you read about the mystery of dark matter—it could be deadly.