DEC 18, 2016 09:30 AM PST

The Solar System May Have Been Started by a Supernova Explosion

One of the questions astronomers constantly ask is, “where did the solar system come from?”

It's never easy trying to learn what occurred 4.6 billion years ago, but scientists are trying to learn if a supernova was responsible for the formation of the solar system.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

While we know that all the Sun and the lineup of planets would have been accumulated over time from a dense cloud of gas where gravity allowed all of it to clump together, we weren’t entirely sure if there were any catalysts that helped speed this process up, until now.

Fortunately, a new lead on this hunch comes from a study performed by researchers from the Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy. Led by professor Yong-Zhong Qian, the researchers concluded in Nature Communications that a low-mass supernova explosion might have helped in the formation of the solar system we know today.

According to the study, the dust cloud that would one day form everything our solar system is today remained completely undisturbed some 4.6 billion years ago, and it wasn’t until a supernova exploded that the ensuing gravitational forces would create chaos in the midst of all that dust the solar system formation would begin.

To get to the bottom of things, the researchers studied meteorites, which are considered leftover material from the early solar system’s formation. They checked these meteorites for any radioactive material that might have been left over from a possible supernova explosion.

They looked specifically for traces of Beryllium-10, a radioactive material that may have been produced by the explosion. After having figured out that Beryllium-10 could be created by both high and low-mass supernovae, they were sure they were on to something.

"The findings in this paper have opened up a whole new direction in our research," lead researcher Yong-Zhong Qian said.

"In addition to explaining the abundance of Beryllium-10, this low-mass supernova model would also explain the short-lived nuclei Calcium-41, Palladium-107, and a few others found in meteorites. What it cannot explain must then be attributed to other sources that require detailed study."

The researchers intend to start looking into other radioactive materials that also may have been a byproduct of the potential supernova explosion, and if things add up just right, it may have been a supernova that helped jump-start the solar system we know today in the first place.

Until the day that research is performed, however, this theory is nothing more than a large lead. It should be interesting to see what comes of it when astronomers and scientists around the world collaborate on this project.

Source: University of Minnesota

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 05, 2018
NASA Waves Goodbye to its Asteroid Belt-Centric Dawn Mission
In 2007, NASA launched the Dawn mission to explore the Asteroid Belt between the planets of Mars and Jupiter. The Dawn spacecraft was employed to study two...
DEC 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2018
Here's Why Harvard Scientists Believe Oumuamua Could Have Been an Alien Spacecraft
  When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize...
DEC 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 11, 2018
ISS Crew Members Perform Spacewalk to Investigate Mystery Hole
The International Space Station became a favorite topic of discussion four months ago after a two-millimeter diameter hole was discovered in the orbital co...
DEC 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 19, 2018
Say Hello to Farout, the Farthest Object Ever Observed in the Solar System
When most people think about the solar system, they envision all the planets and everything in between – typically as far out as Pluto – but it...
DEC 24, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 24, 2018
Saturn Won't Have its Rings Forever, So Enjoy Them While They Last
If you’ve been following the news lately, then you might’ve heard that Saturn is losing its rings more quickly than astronomers ever realized....
DEC 30, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 30, 2018
Are Some Super-Earth Exoplanets Rich in Rubies and Sapphires?
Astronomers are always peeking through the lenses of their fancy space telescopes to learn more about the universe around us. One thing that captivates the...
Loading Comments...