New research of a rare type of meteorite unveils that material from close to the Sun approached the outer Solar System even as the planet Jupiter cleared an opening in the disc of dust and gas from which the planets evolved. Scientists say that the results add to an emerging understanding of how planets are born around other stars and how our Solar System developed. Such things are also part of the consensus theory.
It is known that proof for the protoplanetary disc’s composition in our Solar System comes from chondrites. They’re some types of meteorite made up of little particles, or chondrules, that join like a cosmic dust bunny. If scientists can understand the transport process, they will be able to understand the features of the disc and how the planets were made. Here is everything you need to know.
Where and When the Meteorites Form
The material found in chondrites is ancient, and it represents leftover debris and dust that form the very early Solar System. Further evidence results from rocks from the Moon and Earth and samples of comet material and cosmic dust collected by the Stardust mission and other known space probes.
Scientists can work out close to where and when the meteorites formed by calculating the ratios of isotopes of elements such as titanium, chromium, and oxygen within them.
Previous research showed that meteorites fall into categories by composition. First, there are the carbonaceous meteorites, believed to have originated in the outer Solar System. And, the non-carbonaceous meteorites evolved from the disc closer to the Sun where carbon-based and some volatile compounds were baked away.
So, why was there not more mixing, if all the planets evolved from the same protoplanetary disc? An explanation, and probably the only one, is that as Jupiter formed earlier, it made an opening in the disc, producing a barrier to the movement of dust. The astronomers using the ALMA radio telescope have found the same phenomenon in protoplanetary discs around other stars.
Beyond Jupiter’s Gap
Recently, a team of researchers carried out a detailed study of isotopes from 30 meteorites. They examined the individual chondrules from two chondritic meteorites, the Karoonda meteorite that fell in Australia in 1930, and the Allende meteorite that was found in Mexico in 1969.
The team discovered that the meteorites contain chondrules from both the outer and inner Solar System. Most likely, a bit of material from the inner Solar System must have crossed the Jupiter barrier to accrete with outer Solar System chondrules into a meteorite that billions of years later would end up on Earth. How did such a thing happen? There are, of course, a few possible mechanisms, according to the researchers.
“One is that there was still movement along the disc midplane; the other is that winds in the inner solar system could have lofted particles over the Jupiter gap,” explained UC Davis research scientists Curtis Williams.
This recent study links cosmochemistry, astronomy, and planetary sciences to offer a full picture of planet formation.
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