Life on Earth could be under threat scientists have warned, as the solar system is hurtling through a dangerous zone in the galaxy.
The zone, dubbed the galactic-mid plane, contains dark matter and experts fear that as the Earth makes its way through this region, it will meet an asteroid shower.
The grave warning is linked to a 26 million-year cycle of meteor impacts that scientists say coincide with mass extinctions.
These periodic meteor showers that we could be facing are due to what researches call the Oort Cloud - a shell of icy objects near the edge of the solar system.
Commenting on what this observation means for us in the long term, U.S. geologist Professor Michael Rampino said: "There is evidence that the comet activity has been high for the last one to two million years, and some comet orbits are perturbed, so we may be in a shower at the present time."
He told the Press Association: "That would agree with our position near the galactic mid-plane, where perturbations from dark matter etc. would be expected."
Rampino worked with Professor Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution, to analyse new data on how meteor impacts are linked to extinctions.
What they found is a more cause-and-effect relationship between comets hitting Earth and wiping out life.
Writing in the journal of Astronomical Society, Rampino stated: "...five out of the six largest impact craters of the last 260 million years on earth correlate with mass extinction events..."
"The correlation between the formation of these impacts and extinction events over the past 260 million years is striking and suggests a cause-and-effect relationship," he said.Suggest a correction