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L. M. Ejzak, A. L. Melott (University of Kansas), B. C. Thomas (Washburn University), M. V. Medvedev (University of Kansas)
It has previously been shown that a typical gamma ray burst could have significant effects on the Earth, including such considerations as ozone depletion and production of odd nitrogen compounds. These effects in turn contribute to processes such as DNA damage in organisms, increasing opacity of the atmosphere, and nitric acid rain. Our interest lies in the role that these processes may play in mass extinction events, in particular the Ordovician mass extinction 443 Mya.
Here we investigate variations in certain burst parameters and the resulting variation in the severity of effect that the burst radiation has on the Earth's atmosphere. We extend the range of photon energies used in the model beyond the range used in previous studies, and model bursts with a number of different peak energies. We also alter the temporal profile of the radiation during the burst itself.
This research is conducted with support from NASA's Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program and in collaboration with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and with supercomputer support from NCSA.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.