Academic journal article Science Scope

A Twist on Planetary Origins

Academic journal article Science Scope

A Twist on Planetary Origins

Article excerpt

Meteors that have crashed to Earth have long been regarded as relics of the early solar system. These craggy chunks of metal and rock are studded with chondrules--tiny, glassy, spherical grains that were once molten droplets. Scientists had thought that chondrules represent early kernels of terrestrial planets: As the solar system started to coalesce, these molten droplets collided with bits of gas and dust to form larger planetary precursors.

However, researchers have now found that chondrules may have played less of a fundamental role. From computer simulations, the group concludes that chondrules were not building blocks, but rather by-products of a violent and messy planetary process.

The team found that bodies as large as the Moon probably existed well before chondrules came on the scene. In fact, the researchers found that chondrules were most likely created by the collision of such Moon-sized planetary embryos: These bodies smashed together with such violent force that they melted a fraction of their material and shot a molten plume out into the solar nebula. Residual droplets would eventually cool to form chondrules, which in turn attached to larger bodies--some of which would eventually impact Earth, to be preserved as meteorites. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.