Ever think your tan is simply out of this world? That statement may be closer to reality than you think. When you lie down to catch some sweet sun rays, your body is blasted with approximately sextillion (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) photons of light every second.
Now that’s a lot of photons. So, it makes sense that not all of these little photons came from the Sun. A very small portion of these photons have existed longer than the Earth has, travelling billions of years across space, only to collide with your skin to give you that summer glow.
Astronomers have accurately measured the amount of light that hits Earth from not only outside our Sun, but outside our very galaxy. The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal on August 12.
Cosmic radiation sounds dangerous, and the researchers themselves were inspecting light with wavelengths from a fraction of a micro (harmful) to a millimeter (harmless), but there is no need to fear.
Most harmful radiation, cosmic or not, is filtered out by the atmosphere before hitting the surface, and even then, radiation from outside our galaxy only makes up ten trillionths of the light that actually makes it to your skin (That’s about 10 billion photons per second).
To put you even more to ease, according to Professor Driver, who is based at the University of Western Australia, you would need to bath in the intergalactic radiation for trillions of years before it did any long term damage. That’s not including the Sun, however, so I wouldn’t be throwing away the sunscreen just yet.
So next time you’re at the beach soaking up the sun rays – safely, of course – just know that that a little bit of that warmth is from a galaxy far, far away.
Read the original paper here.
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