A starburst could spawn a solar system.

A starburst could spawn a solar system.

The detonation of a small supernova may have caused the collapse of substances in the nebula, which created our sun and planets.

A new study says that the result of the explosion of a star (perhaps tens of times the mass of the sun) could have been the emergence of the solar system.

The Sun (and other elements) emerged from a cloud of gas and dust about 4.6 billion years ago. It has long been believed that some event had an effect on him, causing a gravitational collapse that formed our star and the disk of matter where planets had formed.

When searching for characteristic patterns left in matter at the dawn of the Solar System, Yong-jung Qian, a co-author and astrophysicist from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and his colleagues suggest that a small star could explode to collapse.

Before work, they assumed that a powerful supernova shock wave produced enough energy to compress a previously existing cloud of dust. The researchers were looking for evidence of this explosion: supernovae generate control samples of unstable, short-lived radioactive isotopes. Finding the signatures of such anomalies in the ancient rocks would help confirm the idea that the supernova took part in the formation of the solar system. Until now, scientists have not been able to find evidence of these isotopic anomalies in ancient meteorites, left from the time of the formation of the system. However, researchers considered supernovae from relatively massive stars (with 15 or more solar masses). On the contrary, the Qian group chose a model with a smaller mass (12 solar masses or less) and studied which isotopes would form during an explosion. They focused on the production of beryllium-10 (an isotope found in meteorites). Its prevalence in meteorites was already a mystery. According to one theory, high-energy cosmic rays could throw protons or neutrons from atomic nuclei to create beryllium-10. This process is called chipping.

Using a new approach to supernovae, Qian noticed that a low-mass one is capable of generating a large number of ghostly particles (neutrinos), whose effect on atomic nuclei could create beryllium-10. This would explain his significant presence in meteorites.

In addition, the influence of a small supernova also explains the presence of other short-lived isotopes found in meteorites. Among them, calcium-41 and palladium-107. “A low-mass supernova gives answers to a wide range of data that we have,” said Qian. He noted that the results of the study do not explain the presence of all isotopes with a short lifetime that were found in meteorites. “Other mechanisms are responsible for their appearance,” he says. “I do not think that this moment should be perceived as a weakness of the model. She just is not responsible for everything. But our work is one of the main parts of the puzzle about the formation of the solar system. It remains to find the rest. ”

Researchers can also find out what effects the shock wave left for the cloud that has become the solar system.

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