Galactic core outbursts are the most energetic phenomenon taking place in the universe. The active, quasar-like core of spiral galaxy PG 0052+251 (Figure 1-a), for example, is seen to radiate 7 times as much energy as comes from all of the galaxy’s stars. Most of this is emitted in the form of high energy cosmic ray electrons accompanied by electromagnetic radiation ranging from radio wave frequencies on up to X ray and gamma ray frequencies.
A study of astronomical and geological data reveals that cosmic ray electrons and electromagnetic radiation from a similar outburst of our own Galactic core (Figure 1-b), impacted our Solar System near the end of the last ice age. This cosmic ray event spanned a period of several thousand years and climaxed around 14,200 years ago. Although far less intense than the PG 0052+251 quasar outburst, it was, nevertheless, able to substantially affect the Earth’s climate and trigger a solar-terrestrial conflagration that initiated the worst animal extinction episode of the Tertiary period.
The effects on the Sun and on the Earth’s climate were not due to the Galactic cosmic rays themselves, but to the cosmic dust that these cosmic rays transported into the Solar System. Observations have shown that the Solar System is presently immersed in a dense cloud of cosmic dust, material that is normally kept at bay by the outward pressure of the solar wind. But, with the arrival of this Galactic cosmic ray volley, the solar wind was overpowered and large quantities of this material were pushed inward. The Sun was enveloped in a cocoon of dust that caused its spectrum to shift toward the infrared. In addition, the dust grains filling the Solar System scattered radiation back to the Earth, producing an “interplanetary hothouse effect” that substantially increased the influx of solar radiation to the Earth. Details of this scenario are described in Paul LaViolette’s book Earth Under Fire,(1) in his Ph.D. dissertation,(2) as well as in a series of journal articles he has published.
LaViolette’s research suggests that the Sun also became highly active as dust and gas falling onto its surface induced extreme flaring activity. Together with the radiation influx from the Sun’s dust cocoon, this caused the Sun’s corona and photosphere to inflate, much as is observed today in dust-choked stars called “T Tauri stars.” These various solar effects caused atmospheric warming and inversion conditions that facilitated glacial growth which brought on ice age conditions. On occasions when the solar radiation influx to the Earth became particularly high, the ice age climate warmed, initiating episodes of rapid glacial melting and continental flooding. There is evidence that one particularly tragic solar flare event occurred around 12,900 years ago during a period when the Sun was particularly active. This involved the release of an immense coronal mass ejection which engulfed the Earth and induced a mass animal extinction.