Physicists find new explanation for solar system’s beingJuly 21st, 2009 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, July 21 (IANS) A team of international astrophysicists has found a new explanation for the early composition of our solar system.
The team has found that radioactive nuclei found in the earliest meteorites, dating back billions of years, could have been delivered by a nearby dying giant star, six times the mass of the sun.
Maria Lugaro from Monash University said the findings could change our current ideas on the origin of the solar system.
“We have known about the early presence of these radioactive nuclei in meteorites since the 1960s, but we do not know where they originated from. The presence of the radioactive nuclei has been previously linked to a nearby supernova explosion, but we are showing now that these nuclei are more compatible with an origin from the winds coming from a large dying star,” Lugaro said.
The conclusion was reached by combining stellar observations from telescopes with recently developed theoretical models reproduced on powerful computers of how stars evolve and which nuclear reaction occurs within their interiors.
“Within one million years of the formation of the solar system the radioactive nuclei decayed inside the rocks where they were trapped, releasing high-energy photons, which caused the rocks to heat.”
“Since much of earth’s water is believed to have originated from these first rocks, the possibility of life on earth depends on their heating history and, in turn, on the presence of radioactive nuclei.” Lugaro said.
“What we need to do now is investigate the probability that a dying giant star could have actually been nearby our then young solar system and polluted it with radioactive nuclei,” he said.
The findings have been published in Meteoritic and Planetary Science.
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Tags: astrophysicists, dying star, energy photons, first rocks, formation of the solar system, giant star, life on earth, lugaro, monash university, nearby supernova, new explanation, nuclear reaction, one million years, origin of the solar system, planetary science, radioactive nuclei, star six, stellar observations, supernova explosion, theoretical models