Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?

  title={Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?},
  author={Daniel P. Whitmire and Albert A. Jackson},
Raup and Sepkoski1–3 have recently reported evidence for a 26-Myr cycle in biological mass extinctions which, if real, requires an astronomical explanation. Here we investigate a model in which this extinction cycle is associated with the orbital period of a solar companion star. The required semi-major axis is (a*), semi-major axis) ≈ 8.8 × 104 AU = 1.4 light yr. Its highly eccentric orbit (e* \[gsims] 0.9) periodically brings the companion into the dense inner region (\[lsims]2 × 104 AU) of… CONTINUE READING
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