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Near-Earth Supernova Explosions: Evidence, Implications, and Opportunities

Fields, Brian D. and Mewaldt, Richard A. (2019) Near-Earth Supernova Explosions: Evidence, Implications, and Opportunities. Astro2020 Science White Paper, . (Unpublished)

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There is now solid experimental evidence of at least one supernova explosion within 100 pc of Earth within the last few million years, from measurements of the short-lived isotope ⁶⁰Fe in widespread deep-ocean samples, as well as in the lunar regolith and cosmic rays. This is the first established example of a specific dated astrophysical event outside the Solar System having a measurable impact on the Earth, offering new probes of stellar evolution, nuclear astrophysics, the astrophysics of the solar neighborhood, cosmic-ray sources and acceleration, multi-messenger astronomy, and astrobiology. Interdisciplinary connections reach broadly to include heliophysics, geology, and evolutionary biology. Objectives for the future include pinning down the nature and location of the established near-Earth supernova explosions, seeking evidence for others, and searching for other short-lived isotopes such as ²⁶Al and ²⁴⁴Pu. The unique information provided by geological and lunar detections of radioactive ⁶⁰Fe to assess nearby supernova explosions make now a compelling time for the astronomy community to advocate for supporting multi-disciplinary, cross-cutting research programs.

Item Type:Report or Paper (White Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Mewaldt, Richard A.0000-0003-2178-9111
Additional Information:Astro2020 Science White Paper submitted to the 2020 Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Group:Space Radiation Laboratory
Series Name:Astro2020 Science White Paper
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200204-081236612
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101099
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 17:25
Last Modified:04 Feb 2020 17:25

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