Deep ocean minerals hold clues to the cosmos

The growth of ferromanganese crusts is one of the slowest processes known to science; these dull black minerals add just a few millimeters of girth per million years. That makes them excellent of archives of Earth history, and–if you know what to look for–excellent archives of cosmic history too. In their laminated layers, scientists have found the first direct evidence of near-Earth supernovae. Learn how these explosions may have influenced the evolution of life in my story for Nautilus.

Supernovae, like the one that created the Crab Nebula, shown here, happen a few times per century in galaxies like the Milky Way. (Credit: NASA and STScI)
Supernovae, like the one that created the Crab Nebula, shown here, happen a few times per century in galaxies like the Milky Way. (Credit: NASA and STScI)