How did our solar system form? The leading theory says that our solar system formed billions of years ago near a supernova. Supernova or explosion of the star disturbed a cloud of gas and dust in space and prompted a gravitational collapse that gave birth to the sun and a surrounding disk of matter, where the planets were born.
However, researchers from University of Chicago lay out an alternative theory for the formation of our solar system. It suggests that our sun was created within a dense bubble surrounding a Wolf-Rayet star.
Wolf-Rayet stars are rare hot stars that shed a lot of mass including tons of elements. As the Wolf-Rayet star release its mass, the stellar wind carries the material around it and form a bubble structure with a dense shell.
Researchers estimate that up to 16 percent of all sun-like stars could be formed in such stellar nurseries. Our solar system was also originated in the bubble around the giant Wolf-Rayet star, which is more than 40 to 50 times the size of our own sun.
"The shell of such a bubble is a good place to produce stars, because dust and gas become trapped inside where they can condense into stars.” Coauthor Nicolas Dauphas, professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences said in a statement.
The theory can also help explain the imbalance proportion of aluminum-26 and iron-60 in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy. Our solar system has an abundance of aluminum-26 but it lacks element iron-60. The trend is not observed in other parts of our galaxy.
Researchers believe that it has something to do with Wolf-Rayet stars, which release lots of aluminium-26, but no iron-60.
"The idea is that aluminum-26 flung from the Wolf-Rayet star is carried outwards on grains of dust formed around the star,” said coauthor Vikram Dwarkadas. “These grains have enough momentum to punch through one side of the shell, where they are mostly destroyed—trapping the aluminum inside the shell."
Eventually, part of the shell collapsed inward due to gravity and formed our solar system.
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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.