Adding a new dimension to the early chemistry of the solar system

February 5, 2016
Adding a new dimension to the early chemistry of the solar system
Credit: NASA/FUSE/Lynette Cook

Using sophisticated computer simulations, an international research team have discovered new insights into the chemical composition of the dust grains that formed in the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

Researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne and the University of Lyon, France, calculated a two-dimensional map of the chemistry in the solar nebula, the thin that surrounded the young sun and out of which the planet formed.

It is expected that refractories (high temperature materials) should be located close to the young sun, while volatile materials (such as ices and sulphur compounds) should form far from the sun where temperatures are cooler.

However, the new maps produced by the research team revealed a complex chemical distribution of the dust, where refractory materials were also present at large distances from the sun on the surface of the disk. Volatile were also found in the inner disk close to the young sun.

"The new two-dimensional calculations have given us a clearer idea of the pristine chemistry in our solar system soon after its formation," says lead researcher Francesco Pignatale.

"While solar nebular is thin, it is two-dimensional. This makes it possible to find relatively high temperature regions at larger distances from the sun on the surface of the disk that are heated by the sun's rays.

"We also find colder regions in the inner disk closer to the sun. Here the high concentration of dust prevents the stellar radiation from efficiently heating the local environment."

This research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Explore further: Swarms of Pluto-size objects kick-up dust around adolescent Sun-like star

More information: F. C. Pignatale et al. 2D condensation model for the inner Solar Nebula: an enstatite-rich environment, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv3003

Related Stories

Solar System formation don't mean a thing without that spin

August 18, 2015

New work from Carnegie's Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser provides surprising new details about the trigger that may have started the earliest phases of planet formation in our solar system. It is published by The Astrophysical ...

Planetary influences on young stellar disks

December 14, 2015

A newborn star typically has a disk of gas and dust from which planets develop as the dust grains collide, stick together and grow. Stars older than about five million years lack evidence for these disks, however, suggesting ...

Twisted magnetic fields give new insights on star formation

December 21, 2015

Using new images that show unprecedented detail, scientists have found that material rotating around a very young protostar probably has dragged in and twisted magnetic fields from the larger area surrounding the star. The ...

Recommended for you

Scientists investigate unidentified radio sources

September 28, 2016

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers led by Andrea Maselli of the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics of Palermo, Italy, has conducted an observational campaign of a group of unassociated radio sources with NASA's ...

Research resolves a debate over 'killer electrons' in space

September 28, 2016

New findings by a UCLA-led international team of researchers answer a fundamental question about our space environment and will help scientists develop methods to protect valuable telecommunication and navigation satellites. ...

Kepler watched a Cepheid star boil

September 28, 2016

After four years of continuous monitoring, astronomers detected clear signs of convective cells in a giant pulsating star for the first time using the Kepler space telescope.

The ultraviolet diversity of supernovae

September 28, 2016

Supernovae, the explosive deaths of massive stars, are among the most momentous events in the cosmos because they disburse into space all of the chemical elements that were produced inside their progenitor stars, including ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.