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It is possible that our solar system survived a supernova

It is possible that our solar system survived a supernova

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In a supernova, a large star throws a large portion of its matter into space, posing a danger to other stars and planets. (featured image) © IMAGO/Panthermedia

When our solar system formed, there must have been a violent supernova nearby. A research team has an idea of ​​how planets can survive.

TOKYO — Meteorites are like fossils that can tell researchers a lot about the solar system’s past. A research team led by astrophysicist Doris Arzumanian of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan has made a particularly exciting discovery in meteorites. The research team analyzed isotopes detected in meteorites and found evidence that our solar system appears to have experienced and survived a nearby supernova about 4.6 billion years ago.

A supernova is the explosion of a star at the end of its life. The star throws a large part of its mass into space. Studies show that other celestial bodies are very close to the supernova severely endangered. If a planet with Earth’s biology was permanently exposed to high-energy radiation from a nearby supernova, it could lead to the extinction of large numbers of living things – even a mass extinction would be possible.

Supernova explosion near the young solar system

In the current case, the research team from Japan found that about 4.6 billion years ago – around the time the solar system was forming – a large amount of the radioactive aluminum isotope accumulated in the meteorites they analyzed. According to the research group, the best explanation is that there was a supernova nearby.

But how could Earth and other planets survive such a violent explosion so early in their formation? It is possible that the young solar system will eventually be torn apart by the shock wave. The research group has developed a theory for this: apparently, the “cocoon” in which the solar system was formed served as a kind of “buffer” and intercepted the shock waves generated by the supernova explosion.

The star exploded – but the solar system was protected by its own “birth cocoon”.

Stars form in huge clouds of molecular gas called filaments. Smaller celestial bodies like our Sun are formed along these filaments. Larger stars, such as the one thought to have exploded as a supernova, tend to form where filaments cross. Arzumanyan and her team estimate that it could take about 300,000 years for the supernova shock wave to penetrate the filaments surrounding the young solar system.

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“This scenario may have several important implications for our understanding of the formation, evolution, and properties of stellar systems,” the team wrote in the study. in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters published had become. “For example, the host filament could play an important role in protecting the young solar system from ultraviolet radiation from the stars, which would vaporize the protostellar disk, affecting its final size, which in turn would directly affect planet formation within the disk. “. They added. (unpaid bill)