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Did a Massive Supernova Explosion Trigger the Formation of Our Solar System?




A new study published by University of Chicago researchers challenges the notion that the force of an exploding star prompted the formation of the solar system. In this study, published online last month in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, authors Haolan Tang and Nicolas Dauphas found the radioactive isotope iron 60—the telltale sign of an exploding star—low in abundance and well mixed in solar system material. As cosmochemists, they look for remnants of stellar explosions in meteorites to help determine the conditions under which the solar system formed. Some remnants are radioactive isotopes: unstable, energetic atoms that decay over time. Scientists in the past decade have found high amounts of the radioactive isotope iron 60 in early solar system materials.

"If you have iron 60 in high abundance in the solar system, that's a 'smoking gun'—evidence for the presence of a supernova," said Dauphas, professor in geophysical sciences. Iron 60 can only originate from a supernova, so scientists have tried to explain this apparent abundance by suggesting that a supernova occurred nearby, spreading the isotope through the explosion.

But Tang and Dauphas discovered that levels of iron 60 were uniform and low in early solar system material. They arrived at these conclusions by testing meteorite samples. To measure iron 60's abundance, they looked at the same materials that previous researchers had worked on, but used a different, more precise approach that yielded evidence of very low iron 60.

Previous methods kept the meteorite samples intact and did not remove impurities completely, which may have led to greater errors in measurement. Tang and Dauphas' approach, however, required that they "digest" their meteorite samples into solution before measurement, which allowed them to thoroughly remove the impurities. This process ultimately produced results with much smaller errors.

"Haolan has dedicated five years of very hard work to reach these conclusions, so we did not make those claims lightly. We've been extremely careful to reach a point where we're ready to go public on those measurements," Dauphas said.

To address whether iron 60 was widely distributed, Tang and Dauphas looked at another isotope of iron, iron 58. Supernovae produce both isotopes by the same processes, so they were able to trace the distribution of iron 60 by measuring the distribution of iron 58.

"The two isotopes act like inseparable twins: Once we knew where iron 58 was, we knew iron 60 couldn't be very far away," Dauphas explained. They found little variation of iron 58 in their measurements of various meteorite samples, which confirmed their conclusion that iron 60 was uniformly distributed.

To account for their unprecedented findings, Tang and Dauphas suggest that the low levels of iron 60 probably came from the long-term accumulation of iron 60 in the interstellar medium from the ashes of countless stars past, instead of a nearby cataclysmic event like a supernova. If this is true, Dauphas said, there is then "no need to invoke any nearby star to make iron 60."

However, it is more difficult to account for the high abundance of aluminum 26, which implies the presence of a nearby star. Instead of explaining this abundance by supernova, Tang and Dauphas propose that a massive star (perhaps more than 20 times the mass of the sun) sheds its gaseous outer layers through winds, spreading aluminum 26 and contaminating the material that would eventually form the solar system, while iron 60 remained locked inside the massive star's interior. If the solar system formed from this material, this alternate scenario would account for the abundances of both isotopes.

"In the future, this study must be considered when people build their story about solar system origin and formation," Tang said..

The image at the top of the page shows massive stars that exploded as supernovae, creating superbubbles in the surrounding gas. X-Ray (blue), Optical (yellow/green), Infrared (red) composite of N44 in the Large Magellanic Cloud

For more information: "Abundance distribution, and origin of 60Fe in the solar protoplanetary disk," by Haolan Tang and Nicolas Dauphas, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, December 2012. Journal reference: Earth and Planetary Science Letters

The Daily Galaxy via University of Chicago

Image credit--  X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Mich./S.Oey, IR: NASA/JPL, Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m



Quotation from

“Astronomers and other specialists are not mapping the electric charge flowing through space in order to determine its influence on stellar evolution. Because of that oversight, they constantly overstate the gravitational model of the cosmos.

Retired professor Dr. Donald Scott wrote that the absolute brightness of a star depends on the strength of the current density impinging into its surface, along with the star’s diameter. As current density increases the star becomes hotter and brighter, glowing bluer and whiter. If the current flow into the star decreases, the star becomes red and cools down. So using magnitude and color to determine a star’s age is a false premise.

Anthony Peratt, in his particle-in-cell simulations of plasma reactions, has demonstrated that galaxies are not formed by rarified wisps of gas and dust gradually falling into their own gravity wells. His models of galactic evolution reveal that electrically conductive plasma is able to create the shapes of spiral galaxies without resorting to gravity-specific influences. Peratt’s work with high-energy electric discharges indicates that the composition of stars in galaxy evolution is due not to where they were born, but to how they were born.

In plasma cosmology and cosmogony, the stars are created in the compression zones of galaxy-spanning Birkeland currents. Such currents actually draw charged material along their filaments from across vast distances in space. As two (or more) filaments begin to twist around one another because of the long-range attractive force, the z-pinch effect crushes the interstellar plasma into galaxy-shaped masses”, end of quotation.

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