The sun used to have Saturn-like rings.


The sun used to have Saturn-like rings
This false-colored image, captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, shows 
rings around a young star named HD163296 (not the sun).  
(Image credit: Andrea Isella/Rice University)

According to new research, the sun may have been encircled by Saturn-like rings of dust before Earth and the other planets of our solar system formed.

According to NASA, Earth's dust rings may have stopped the planet from becoming a "super-Earth," which would have been up to 10 times the mass of Earth and twice its size. About 30% of the sun-like stars in our galaxy have super-Earths circling them, according to research.

Scientists are baffled as to why our solar system lacks a super-Earth, given the prevalence of super-Earths in other systems throughout the galaxy. André Izidoro, an astronomer at Rice University in Houston, Texas, stated. Live Science earlier said that Izidoro and his colleagues used a computer simulation model of the solar system's birth, which formed from the ashes of a collapsed cloud of dust and gas known as a solar nebula.

They hypothesized that gas and dust "bump" areas would have encircled the newborn sun using computer models. These zones of enormous pressure presumably arose as particles traveled toward the sun under its solid gravitational attraction, heated up, and released vast volumes of evaporated gas.

"Sublimation lines," as they were named in the simulations, were found to exist in three unique locations where solid particles evaporated into gas. Solid silicate gasified closest to the sun, ice gasified in the center, and carbon monoxide gasified at the furthest end of the temperature spectrum.

Solid particles like dust kind of shoved into these "bumps" and started to build, the models suggested. "The result of the pressure spike is that it accumulates dust particles, and that's why we observe rings," co-author Andrea Isella, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University, said in the release. The sun would have eaten up the particles rapidly if there were no pressure bumps, leaving no seeds for the planets to form. "One needs something to halt them in order to allow them time to develop into planets," Isella added.

An illustration of the proposed rings that may have dictated the architecture of our solar system
An illustration of the proposed rings that may have dictated the architecture of our solar system.
 (Image credit: Image courtesy of Rajdeep Dasgupta)

With age, the gas and dust around the sun cooled down, and the sublimation lines inched closer to the sun. This mechanism enabled the dust to aggregate into planetesimals, or asteroid-size seeds of planets, which might subsequently join together to become planets. As Izidoro said, "our model demonstrates dust may be concentrated by pressure bumps and moving pressure bumps can operate as planetesimal manufacturers."

According to Izidoro's remark, the pressure bumps controlled the amount of material accessible to build planets in the inner solar system.

According to the calculations, the closest ring to the sun created the planets of the inner solar system — Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. The middle ring would eventually become the planets of the outer solar system. In contrast, the outermost ring created the comets, asteroids, and other tiny things in the Kuiper Belt, the area beyond the orbit of Neptune.

What's more, the researchers concluded that if they reproduced the delayed development of the middle ring, super-Earths might have evolved in the solar system. "By the time the pressure bump occurred in such circumstances, a lot of material had already entered the inner system and was accessible to build super-Earths," Izidoro added. It's possible that the moment when the solar system's middle-pressure bump developed was critical.

Also Read: The Most Recent Major Collision in Our Milky Way Galaxy.

The results were published on Dec. 30 in the journal Nature Astronomy.

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