Science

Tree rings give perception into mysterious, damaging radiation storms

Tree rings give perception into mysterious, damaging radiation storms

Rings and the sun

Composite picture displaying tree ring and flame – UQ researchers used tree ring knowledge to mannequin the worldwide carbon cycle to problem a standard concept about Miyake occasions. Creator: College of Queensland

New gentle has been shed on a mysterious, unpredictable and probably devastating astrophysical occasion because of analysis from the College of Queensland (UQ).

A workforce of researchers led by Dr Benjamin Pope from UQ’s College of Arithmetic and Physics utilized superior statistics to knowledge from thousand-year-old timber to be taught extra about radiation ‘storms’.

“These large bursts of cosmic radiation, often called Miyake occasions, occur about as soon as each thousand years, however what causes them isn’t clear,” Dr Pope stated.

“The main concept is that these are large photo voltaic flares. We have to know extra as a result of if any of this occurred right now, it might destroy expertise together with satellites, web cables, lengthy distance energy strains and transformers.

“The influence on world infrastructure will probably be unimaginable.”

“As an alternative of 1 momentary explosion or flash, we might even see a sort of astrophysical storm or flash.” — Tinyuan Zhang

Enter the standard tree ring.

First writer Qingyuan Zhang, a pupil in UQ’s Division of Arithmetic, developed software program to research all obtainable tree-ring knowledge.

“As a result of you possibly can depend the rings of a tree to find out its age, you too can observe historic cosmic occasions 1000’s of years in the past,” Mr Zhang stated.

“When radiation enters the ambiance, it produces radioactive carbon-14, which filters via the air, oceans, crops and animals, and creates an annual file of radiation in tree rings.

“We modeled the worldwide carbon cycle to reconstruct the method over a ten,000-year interval to realize perception into the size and nature of the Miyake occasions.”

Till now, the prevailing concept has been that the Miyake occasions are large photo voltaic flares.

“However our outcomes problem that,” Mr. Zhang stated. “We have proven that they do not correlate with sunspot exercise, and a few really final for one or two years.

“As an alternative of 1 momentary explosion or flash, we might even see a sort of astrophysical storm or flash.”

“The influence on world infrastructure will probably be unimaginable.” — Dr. Benjamin Pope

Dr. Pope stated that the truth that scientists have no idea precisely what Miyake occasions are, or tips on how to predict their incidence, is of nice concern.

“Based mostly on the obtainable knowledge, there may be a couple of one % likelihood of seeing one other throughout the subsequent decade. However we do not know tips on how to predict it and what sort of injury it could trigger.

“These odds are alarming and lay the groundwork for additional analysis.”

The research was revealed in Supplies of Artwork Royal Society A.

Reference: “Modeling Cosmic Ray Occasions within the Radiocarbon Report of Tree Rings” Qinyuan Zhang, Utkarsh Sharma, Jordan A. Dennis, Andrea Siffa, Margot Kuitems, Ulf Büntgen, Matthew J. Owens, Michael W. Dee, and Benjamin J.S. pope Proceedings of the Royal Society of Mathematical, Bodily and Technical Sciences.
DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2022.0497

The analysis was additionally accomplished with arithmetic and physics college students Utkarsh Sharma and Jordan Dennis.

The work was supported by a philanthropic donation to UQ from the Large Questions Institute.





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