Black Holes May Have Paved The Way To Life On Earth, Devouring DNA-Hindering Cosmic Radiation

Scientists are now saying that black holes may have played a vital role in creating conditions suitable for life to begin. The new research suggests that when the universe was initially created, it would have been full of cosmic radiation that would have destroyed life-forming DNA. However, black holes would eventually form and the universe would expand outward, causing the cosmic radiation to dissipate and allow for life to begin.

Discovery News reports that without the formation of black holes, the universe may have never been suitable for life to form. In fact, new research suggests that black holes played an integral role in ensuring the building blocks of life were met. Astrophysicist Paul Mason has studied the relation between black holes and suitability for life and found that the black holes may have acted as a sort of “switch on” button for life formation.

Mason notes that prior to life forming on Earth, the planet was constantly bombarded with cosmic radiation from exploding stars and from radiation exiting supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies. However, at a certain point, the cosmic radiation seemed to dissipate and lower to an amount that was suitable for life. Mason claims that though black holes were once a source of cosmic radiation, as they aged, they began to devour the deadly rays instead of spewing them outward.

Part of the early problem for young Earth and life formation was how close the galaxies were located to one another. This meant that our galaxy was closer to nearby galaxies with exploding stars and the cosmic radiation that resulted. However, as the universe expanded outward, the galaxies became further apart and stars began to explode less frequently than in the universe’s infancy. Therefore, Mason says that the expansion of the universe was key to allowing for life to begin.

Mason says that the study of cosmic radiation and its capability with life is interesting in that the radiation can be so strong that it kills a living organism; however, high levels of cosmic radiation are not necessarily a death sentence. In fact, Mason says that life could evolve to include a more varied species.

“If a (cosmic ray) dose is high enough it can kill something. But at the same time it can cause mutations and lead to evolution of many more types of species.”

Therefore, now that life has already begun, Mason says cosmic rays should not be viewed as a huge concern and that supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies may not spew off enough cosmic radiation to do any real damage to the planet. Physicist Dimitra Atri of the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle notes that the idea that giant black holes spew out cosmic rays at a high rate is just speculation.

“It’s not very well established that these (giant black holes) release very high energy cosmic rays.”

Though the initial explosion of the new stars seemed to keep life from forming early on, these dying stars are what later provided the chemical elements needed to sustain life as we know it on Earth. Oxygen and nitrogen are both products created from dying stars. Therefore, it seems that all of the right circumstances, including supermassive black holes, came together at exactly the right time to encourage life formation on Earth and possibly beyond.

Does it surprise you that black holes played a role in early life formation or would you expect that all major universal forces played a key role?

[Image via NASA/Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital]