A team of researchers from Clemson University and the University of Chicago came up with a new theory on the formation of the Solar System. Most astronomers think our planetary system began forming several billions of years ago in the area surrounding a supernova. However, the new theory claims it was a Wolf-Rayet star instead.
The Solar System might have not formed around a supernova
Usually, researchers think stars and planetary systems come into being soon after supernovas occur. However, this new theory proposes a completely different explanation, replacing the supernova with a Wolf-Rayet star. This type of star is surrounded by a thick layer of dust and gas, which might have been the perfect setting for the formation of our Solar System.
Such a cosmic body is about 50 times bigger than the sun, and reaches extremely high temperatures. This leads to the gas layers which surround it to be expelled at huge speeds. The stellar winds present around it push this material from way to another, thus creating a protective formation around the star. This formation is called a Wolf-Rayet bubble. Researchers explained such a place is great for star production.
“The shell of a Wolf-Rayet bubble is a good place to produce stars, because dust and gas become trapped inside where they can condense into stars.”
The Wolf-Rayet bubble hypothesis would explain the presence of two isotopes in the Solar System
This theory didn’t arise out of nowhere, as it actually has a scientific basis. Researchers have spotted one isotope which is more prevalent in the Solar System than in the rest of the Milky Way galaxy, aluminum-26. On the other hand, another one occurs in much smaller quantities, iron-60. This couldn’t have been explained by the supernova hypothesis, as the formation contains both isotopes in high quantities.
There is another possibility which can explain the situation. One of the isotopes could have been introduced in the Solar System from outside. Researchers explored this Wolf-Rayet hypothesis, and published a paper on it in the Astrophysical Journal.
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