Meteors Reveal Insights about the Early Life of our Sun

Meteors Reveal Insights about the Early Life of our Sun

The presence of noble gases inside Hibonite Crystals, extracted from a meteor, gives scientists some key information about the early life of our Sun.

Technological advancement has enabled the humanity to explore their surroundings like never before. There are different space agencies in the world and all of them have their own missions which feed us tantalizing information about the space and numerous heavenly objects present there. The research of the scientists is not limited to finding new avenues but they are also striving hard to understand the details of our solar system. Several space probes, satellites, and rovers are operating to closely analyze all of our neighboring planets. Recently, NASA announced that they want to study the central part of our solar system, the Sun, and for this reason the Parker Solar Probe will touch this giant ball of fire for the first time ever.

Despite all the information, researchers still don’t know much about the beginning of the Sun. According to the current beliefs, it came to life 50 million years before the formation of our planet. That’s the reason why it is extremely tough to locate the physical objects that were present in the early years of our sun. Scientists are keen to know about these objects because they will have the chemical records of the early sun. Researchers found a glitter of hope in the latest study according to which blue crystals trapped inside meteorites explain the journey of the sun in its early days. Philipp Heck, the Author of the study who is a Professor at the University of Chicago as well as a Curator at the Field Museum, described their findings in the following words:

The Sun was very active in its early life — it had more eruptions and gave off a more intense stream of charged particles. I think of my son, he’s three, he’s very active too. Almost nothing in the Solar System is old enough to really confirm the early Sun’s activity, but these minerals from meteorites in the Field Museum’s collections are old enough. They’re probably the first minerals that formed in the Solar System.

The minerals they observed are called ‘Hibonite’, ice-blue crystals that can only be observed under a microscope. The researching team observed that the sun was throwing off quite a lot of high energy particles during that phase of its life. The atoms found in these crystals pointed in that direction because the very presence of those atoms was not possible without the emission of these energetic particles. The researchers are confident that these crystals are more than 4.5 billion years old and they carry all the important information about the early events of our solar system. Levke Kööp, an Affiliate of the Field Museum and a Post-doc from the University of Chicago who is also the Lead Author of the study said,

“These crystals formed over 4.5 billion years ago and preserve a record of some of the first events that took place in our Solar System. And even though they are so small — many are less than 100 microns across — they were still able to retain these highly volatile noble gases that were produced through irradiation from the young Sun such a long time ago.”

Some of the energetic particles from the sun smashed into these Hibonite crystals which split the Calcium and Aluminum atoms into Neon and Helium. These noble gases survived billions of years inside these crystals and came to the Earth in form of meteorites. Scientists have tried to find evidence of sun’s early life in meteorites in the past but they found nothing. However, things seem to have changed through this team of researchers. Kööp mentioned that previous efforts might have failed due to the lack of instruments that were sensitive enough to find these results. They used a garage-sized mass spectrometer to determine the chemical composition of these Hibonite crystals. Laser was used to melt these crystals and the emitted gases were examined to find that they were Helium and Neon. This is being regarded as the first scientific evidence of early activity of the Sun. Heck summed it up beautifully by saying,

“It’d be like if you only knew someone as a calm adult — you’d have reason to believe they were once an active child, but no proof. But if you could go up into their attic and find their old broken toys and books with the pages torn out, it’d be evidence that the person was once a high-energy toddler.”

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