Until recently, the undoubted theory about meteors, which are known to sometimes collide with the Earth, was that they are the building blocks of a planet’s creation. Now, a new idea has been brought forth that claims otherwise.
A report published in the R&D Mag, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Purdue University have discovered that what they previously thought made meteors key players in building planets – the spherical grains called chondrules – , may not actually be so important after all.
The researchers have developed a computer simulations program which helped them observe the role of chondrules, and what they’ve seen is that these grains are probably only secondary products. It seems that chondrules have appeared much more recently than planets. The team of scientists suggests that these spherical masses were created by the collision of two small planets, which crashed into each other with such a force that some of their melted material blasted into outer space. These residual rocks would form chondrules after having lowered their temperature.
These chondrules eventually got stuck to some larger masses of rock and formed meteorites. These new discoveries brought to light by the researchers at MIT indicate that meteors are but residues from planetary formation and did not constitute integral parts of that process.
The recent study also helps astronomers form a clearer view of how the solar system must have been in its early days, with violent, chaotic activity and massive planetary collision that blasted off into space large amounts of residue.
The computer program the scientists got the aid from created a simulated collision between two small planets, called protoplanets, which are about the size of a moon or an asteroid. After various experiments, tests and impact modelling, they have concluded that planets the size of a moon could form in about 10,000 years, which predates the formation of chodrules. Also, from the simulated collision of the two protoplanets, the team of researchers determined what speed was necessary to create such a powerful collision, and they have estimated a speed of 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) per second.
The chondrules were believed to contain water an amino acids which are essential to creation of live. But the study published in the Nature journal demonstrates that they actually formed after planets and that they were created by very rapid heating that melted solid dust particles.
Image Source: Express