July 24, 2013 — Comets and meteorites contain clues to our solar system's earliest days. But some of the findings are puzzle pieces that don't seem to fit well together. A new set of theoretical models from Carnegie's Alan Boss shows how an outburst event in the Sun's formative years could explain some of this disparate evidence. His work could have implications for the hunt for habitable planets outside of our solar system.
The research is published by The Astrophysical Journal.
One way to study the solar system's formative period is to look for samples of small crystalline particles that were formed at high temperatures but now exist in icy comets. Another is to analyze the traces of isotopes -- versions of elements with the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons -- found in primitive meteorites. These isotopes decay and turn into different, so-called daughter, elements. The initial abundances of these isotopes tell researchers where the isotopes may have come from, and can give clues as to how they traveled around the early solar system.
Solar Systems play a huge role in a habitable planet's formation. From Jupiter's massive gravity, to the magnetic field of Saturn the layout of the solar system defines our ability to live! Now, researchers are doing everything they can to look for signs that a habitable planet may exist in the system!
I may not be an astrophysicist, but some of this stuff is incredibly intriguing. The intricacies of life never cease to amaze, from particles and quarks, to nebulas and quasars it's all just fascinating. So, all I really have left to say is keep looking up. You never know what you may find!