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Q&A: Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, AGN, and Quasars

Q:
What sort of damage to the atmosphere of a planet could be expected from a direct hit by the 3c321 jet? Is the effect like being hit by a fire from outer space?

A:
It's not certain what damage would occur, since luckily we've never had to experience such an event on Earth, but one likely problem would be depletion of ozone in the upper atmosphere. This would weaken the planet's ability to screen out harmful UV and X-ray radiation, either from the planet's parent star or from the jet itself. Another likely issue would be compression of the planet's magnetosphere, allowing more dangerous, high-energy particles to strike the Earth.

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