A more immediate hazard comes from muons.
These subatomic particles, created when high‑energy cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere, constantly zip through our bodies and occasionally damage genetic material at the cellular level. They cause many of the spontaneous tumors that have been with us long before we started downing charred hot dogs.Then there’s the remote possibility of a near‑enough supernova to zap our planet with lethal gamma rays. It’s a wonderfully weird catastrophe, worthy of these darkest nights. Orion’s famous star Betelgeuse is the nearest true peril. If it “goes supernova” the resulting radiation would increase earthly cancers and mutations. But at 400 lightyears, it’s too distant to wipe us out.
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