HomeNewsEarth Is Not Bigger Due to Discs of Sun: Research

Related Articles

Earth Is Not Bigger Due to Discs of Sun: Research

A team of researchers has re-simulated the formation of the solar system using supercomputers and studying the accretion disks of young suns, such as HD 163296. They are trying to explain how and why our Earth did not become a super-Earth and why our solar system became what it is today.

An international team of researchers from Rice University, Bordeaux, Boulder, Colorado, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, ran hundreds of supercomputer simulations to recreate the formation of the solar system . They discovered that our planet would not have turned into a super-Earth thanks, perhaps, to the three accretion disks that surrounded our Sun when it was younger.

Even better, these three discs could explain the creation and composition of the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, the formation of the Kuiper belt , beyond Neptune, but also the almost circular orbits of several planets, their composition and their different sizes. Their research was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

It all started with this question: “If super-Earths are super-common, why don’t we have any in the solar system?” »

Just as matter orbiting Saturn is flattened by centrifugal forces into a tight, neat disc, the same would have happened with the Sun, in the early days of the solar system. According to the research team, the very composition of these accretion disks would explain why our Earth became what it is today, and not a super-Earth.

According to the research team, if the Sun’s accretion disk had been uniform, or “smooth” in its composition, our solar system would have a composition very different from that which we know today. “  In a smooth disk, all the solid particles — grains of dust or rocks — are drawn inwards very quickly and then find themselves lost in the star, ” says one of the authors of the study.

Their model assumes that three bands of high pressure appeared in the disk of gas and dust of our young Sun, thus modulating the planets of our system. Such “pressure bumps”, as the team calls them, have been spotted and studied in ringed stellar disks around distant stars, thanks to ALMA (the most powerful telescope for observing the cold Universe).

Accretion disks of the young sun HD163296 (false color) © Andrea Isella, Rice University
Accretion disks of the young sun HD163296 (false color) © Andrea Isella, Rice University

What would have happened if our Earth had become a super-Earth?

According to Wikipedia’s definition, a super-Earth is ”  an exoplanet having a mass between that of Earth and that of a giant planet, with an upper limit of ten times the mass of Earth, the lower limit varying between one and five times the mass of the Earth . Simply put, super-Earths are rocky terrestrial worlds that orbit other stars and are significantly larger than our own Earth. They represent about 30% of the rocky exoplanets we have discovered so far.

If Earth were a super-Earth say ten times larger (assuming it had the same density), Earth’s gravity would also be ten times larger . It would be like squeezing the entire mass of an adult bull into the human body: if you currently weigh 100 kg on Earth, you would weigh 1,000 kg on this super-Earth. It goes without saying, but your muscles and skeleton should be much stronger to support this extra weight.

It would have radically changed the way life developed on Earth and it probably never even appeared, because the Earth’s magnetic field, which protects us from the Sun, might not have been created because of this too strong gravity. UV radiation would have potentially wiped out most life on the planet, and solar winds would have stripped much of our atmosphere, which we suspect happened to the planet Mars.

Latest Posts

error: Content is protected !!