How Earth was born: Solar winds and Jupiter’s gravitational pull combined in a ‘one-two punch’ to force debris together into planets, researchers find
- Jupiter’s huge gravity and the solar wind acted as a ‘one-two punch’
- The forced debris close to the sun towards the developing planets
- This added mass to Mercury, Venus and Earth and cleared away the space debris
Earth may have been created when rocks close to the sun were forced together by the solar wind and Jupiter wandering through the primitive solar system.
Space dust is common around most stars but our solar system is suspiciously missing of debris close to the sun.
Astronomers now think it was forced together and created Mercury, Venus and Earth.
A Yale researcher says the combination of Jupiter’s huge gravity sweeping up space dust and the solar wind blowing the rocks away acted as a ‘one-two punch’.
Space dust is common around most stars but our solar system is suspiciously missing of debris close to the sun. Astronomers now think it was forced together and created Mercury, Venus and Earth.
Christopher Spalding at Yale University simulated the early period of the solar system and assumed the star’s solar wind was more intense than it is currently because of the sun being more active and spinning faster.
Particles are ejected out of the sun at a phenomenal rate (almost 40 million billion kilograms of material a year) and this is what is known as the solar wind.
He claims that rocks of 100 metres or smaller in diameter would have been forced away from the sun and aggregated with the developing planets.
It is already believe that the dust in the early solar system was fine and smaller than that of a planet as Jupiter is believed to have migrated through the solar system.
The passing of the gas giant and its significant gravity had a huge impact on the arrangement of rocks.
Christopher Spalding at Yale University simulated the early period of the solar system and assumed the star’s solar wind was more intense than it is currently because of the sun being more active and spinning faster and this may have helped form Earth (file photo)
HOW IS THE SOLAR WIND FORMED?
The sun and its atmosphere are made of plasma – a mix of positively and negatively charged particles which have separated at extremely high temperatures, that both carries and travels along magnetic field lines.
Material from the corona streams out into space, filling the solar system with the solar wind.
But scientists found that as the plasma travels further away from the sun, things change.
The sun begins to lose magnetic control, forming the boundary that defines the outer corona – the very edge of the sun.
The breakup of the rays is similar to the way water shoots out from a squirt gun.
First, the water is a smooth and unified stream, but it eventually breaks up into droplets, then smaller drops and eventually a fine, misty spray.
A recent Nasa study captured the plasma at the same stage where a stream of water gradually disintegrates into droplets.
If charged particles from solar winds hit Earth’s magnectic field, this can cause problems for satellite and communication equipment.
‘It’s this one-two punch of Jupiter coming in and the solar wind finishing the job,’ says Dr Spalding.
The theory has the potential to explain some anomalies on the interior of planet Earth which require being subjected to huge temperatures far hotter than is possible.
‘This may have been material that was once closer in than Mercury and was getting blasted by the sun’s heat,’ Dr Spalding told New Scientist.
‘It still records this history of being hot even though it’s in a colder place today.’
The research is available in arXiv and will be published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
HOW EARTH GOT ITS PRECIOUS METALS
Earth has an unusually high proportion of precious metals near the surface, which is surprising, as they would usually be expected to settle down near the core of the planet.
Until now, this has been explained by the ‘late veneer’ theory, which suggests that foreign objects hit Earth, and in the process deposited the precious metals near the surface.
New computer simulations from the Tokyo Institute of Technology took into account the metal concentrations on Earth, the moon and Mars, and suggests that a huge collision could have brought all the precious metals to Earth at once.
The researchers believe that this happened before the Earth’s crust formed – around 4.45 billion years ago.
The findings suggest that Earth’s history could have been less violent than previously thought.