Low-Mass Supernova Led To The Birth Of Our Solar System: Study

Posted: Nov 30 2016, 5:36am CST | by , Updated: Nov 30 2016, 8:33pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Low-Mass Supernova Led to the Birth of our Solar System: Study
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Using evidence from meteorites, researchers propose a supernova about 12 times heavier than our sun may have triggered the formation of the sun and planets orbiting around it.

About 4.6 million years ago, a collapsing cloud of gas and dust formed our solar system. The cloud was collapsed possibly due to the shockwave of a nearby exploding star or supernova. As gravity pulled the gas and dust together, a solar nebula was created. It was like a spinning, swirling disk of material.

According to existing theory, the immense pressure at the center released a tremendous amount of energy and with that, our sun came to be. The matter farther out in the disk also clumped together and eventually formed our planets. However, there are still a lot of questions that were left unanswered.

The latest study, therefore, attempts to fill in key pieces in to the puzzle of how solar system formed.

Using new models and evidence from meteorites, researchers from University of Minnesota suggests that a low-mass supernova may have triggered a collapse in the cloud of gas and dust millions of years ago which eventually led to the formation of our sun and planets around it.

Many previous efforts in studying the formation of solar system had considered a high-mass supernova responsible for the disturbance. But nuclear fingerprints of that supernova are not present in the meteoric record.

Meteorites are comparable to leftover bricks in a construction site that can tell us what the solar system is made of and also the type of supernova to which the short-lived nuclei present in early solar system belongs to.

To test whether a low-mass supernova, about 12 times heavier than our sun triggered the formation of solar system, researchers examined Beryllium-10, a short-lived nucleus commonly found in meteorites. Researchers found that Beryllium-10 can be produced by supernovae of both low and high masses but overall meteorite record points to only a low-mass supernova triggering the formation of the solar system.

“This is the forensic evidence we need to help us explain how the solar system was formed. It points to a low-mass supernova as the trigger,” said lead researcher Yong-Zhong Qian, a Professor at University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy.

“The findings in this paper have opened up a whole new direction in our research.”

Next, researchers are planning to look at isotopes of lithium and boron also produced by supernovae. The invesitgation could yield more intrigging results.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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