Earth seems to have an unusually high abundance of precious metal elements, such as gold and platinum, when compared to other planets and spatial bodies. There are very dense elements that are formed in stars explode into supernovae, which are some of the most powerful forces in our universe.
Once they’re formed, they’re ejected into interstellar space at high rates of speed in virtually all directions. Then, over billions of years, they eventually collide with other spatial bodies, including our planet.
The theory that has been long-standing is that Earth has been bombarded by space rocks over the course of millions (even billions) of years and that all of these collisions have slowly delivered these precious metals to our once-boring planet.
Of course, the scientific community is now challenging this theory, suggesting that perhaps it was just one collision, not many, that brought all of the precious metals we know and love to our planet in one fell swoop.
Said collision is believed to be the very same one that created our Moon. The hypothesis appears in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Researchers from Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology, led by Dr Ramon Brasser, have used computer programs to simulate the generation of Earth’s terrain over time, and there’s very little evidence to suggest Earth has been struck by space rocks as often as some other planetary bodies in our Solar System.
Probably helping to make this the case is Jupiter, our Solar System’s largest confirmed planet, whose gravitational forces probably vacuumed up most of the debris in our early Solar System. One might say Earth got pretty lucky. Thanks to Jupiter, there were probably far fewer space rocks in our Solar System at the time than once thought.
The researchers go on to explain that in order for all these rare precious metals to have been drilled so deep into Earth’s layers in just one impact, it would have needed to happen before Earth’s crust formed, which means it would have happened more than 4.45 billion years ago.
While most of the research remains hypothetical at this point in time, it does seem to match up nicely with what we understand about the Moon. Much research still remains to figure out if this is actually what happened, but all it takes is a single discovery to overturn this hypothesis, so only time will tell what actually took place.
Source: Science Alert