From a giant comet collision to alien attacks, there are hundreds of theories as to what killed off the dinosaurs. One more theory was recently thrown into the mix that posits mysterious dark matter as the culprit behind the mass extinctions that Earth experiences about every 26 million to 30 million years. This exact time frame is the same interval at which Earth and the rest of our solar system passes through the plane of the Milky Way. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
Here’s what we know about dark matter: not much. It is invisible to the eye but causes pretty impressive gravitational effects and radiation. Researchers believe that for every square light-year there’s one solar mass of dark matter. That is quite a bit of dark matter just floating around the universe. This would be absolutely fine if it wasn’t for this same dark matter flinging comets at Earth and causing planets to collide. More on this later.
Scientists now believe that the reason that Earth’s core runs hot enough to cause some areas to become completely uninhabitable every couple million years or so isn’t because it caught a space cold and is running a gnarly fever. They theorize that as the Earth enters through the haze of particles at the edge of the Milky Way, dark matter falls to Earth and enters into the core where it is transferred into heat. While the core burns up, the dark matter also causes space debris to rocket towards the earth, triggering extraterrestrial impacts and geological upheavals in Earth’s make up all at once.
We might be able to survive one cataclysmic event but having dark matter attacking Earth from the inside out makes for good odds that we’ll meet the same fate as the dinosaurs. Next up in the ring: Dark Matter vs. Cockroaches and Twinkies.