Closer To Understanding the Sun's Birth
Astrophysicists have a very general and extremely theoretical idea of what happened after the Big Bang, including the formation of our solar system's Sun and stars like it. However, a team of experts from Monash University now believe that they have discovered something that will take us a step closer to understanding what the Sun's birth was truly like.
According to a study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, Maria Lugaro and Alexander Heger led a team of researchers in analyzing ancient meteorites in the hopes of determining when heavy elements such as gold, silver, platinum, lead and other rare-earth elements were added to the solar system's overall matter. These are all elements are theorized to have been first produced by some of the first stars.
"We can now tell with confidence the final one per cent of gold, silver and platinum, were added to the solar system matter roughly 100 million years before the birth of the Sun," Lugaro said in a statement. "The final one per cent of lead and rare-earth elements, such as those that make your smart phone, was added much later - at most, 30 million years before the birth of the Sun."
The study suggests that some time after these final elements were added to its total matter, the solar system entered an "incubation period" where the Sun's star nursery formed.
A cloud of dusts, gasses, and high-energy radiations, portions of star nurseries eventually collapse under gravitational forces to form young and churning balls of fiery light.
"We now know this incubation period could not have lasted more than 30 million years. This offers us the chance to determine the lifespan of the nursery where the sun was born, how massive it was and how many stars were born there together," Lugaro said.
"Understanding the timescales and processes leading to the formation of our solar system is key to relate its birth environment with that of other planetary systems in the galaxy," he added.
The research team plans to now start looking at other heavy radioactive nuclei to gain a better understanding of the prehistory of the solar system, and improve the accuracy and precision of formation models.