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Space

Cosmic cloud exposed Earth to interstellar space 3 million years ago

The protective bubble around the sun retreated dramatically after colliding with a freezing interstellar cloud, leaving much of the solar system exposed to radiation that may have shaped our evolution, a study suggests

By James Woodford

10 June 2024

The protective bubble around the sun (yellow dot) and Earth (blue dot)

Illustration of the protective bubble around the sun (yellow dot) and Earth (blue dot)

Harvard Radcliffe Institute

Between 2 million and 3 million years ago, the solar system encountered turbulence on a galactic scale, colliding with a dense interstellar cloud that may have altered both the climate and evolution on Earth.

Researchers have only recently been able to map the path of the sun through our galaxy, particularly in relation to the relatively dense hydrogen clouds that also journey through the interstellar medium, the vast space between star systems.

Now, a team led by at Boston University…

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