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Scientists Unravel the Early History of the Solar System


Published on: July 1, 2022,

A team of researchers led by ETH Zurich and National Centre of Competence has accurately recreated the early history of solar system. As per them the early solar system was more chaotic than previously assumed. Before the Earth and other planets were formed the young sun was surrounded by cosmic gas and dust. Slowly, rock shards of varying sizes formed from the dust over the millennia. These were building blocks for planets. Some asteroid did not became planets and continue to circle the sun today.


Iron samples from the cores of asteroids had fallen on Earth as meteorites were analyzed by researchers. They revealed a portion of their early past during formation of planets. “Previous scientific studies showed that asteroids in the solar system have remained relatively unchanged since their formation, billions of years ago”, study lead author and researcher at the ETH Zurich and the NCCR PlanetS.


The researchers has to prepare and examine the extra-terrestrial materials. The team took 18 different iron meteorites. With the help of mass spectrometry they measured the abundance in different isotopes of these elements. In the first few million years of our solar system the metallic asteroid were heated by radioactivity decay of isotopes. As they began to cool down specific silver isotope produced by radioactive decay began to accumulate. As per previous theory this energetic early phase of solar system was primarily caused by dissipation of so called solar nebula. The solar nebula is reminder of gas that was left over from the cosmic clouds out of which the Sun was born.


While the nebulas was still around it slowed down the objects orbiting the Sun in it-similar to how air resistance slows a moving car. After the nebula had disappeared the researcher suggests the lack of gas dragged the asteroid to accelerate and collide with with each other.


“Our work illustrates how improvements in laboratory measurement techniques allow us to infer key processes that took place in the early solar system – like the likely time by which the solar nebula had gone. Planets like the Earth were still in the process of being born at that time. Ultimately, this can help us to better understand how our own planets were born, but also give us insights into others outside our solar system”, Schönbächler concludes.



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