Astronomers proposed two possible explanations for the formation of the mysterious gap. One version suspects the gravitational influence of Jupiter while the alternative cause could be cosmic winds in the early Solar System.
Scientists have uncovered evidence of a mysterious “gap” in outer space that existed in the early Solar System. Research has shown that it divided the planetary system into two parts – inner and outer. Scientists assume that the gap did not allow the material located on either side to interact with material from the other.
The mysterious gap in the early Solar System and how it influenced the evolution of planets
The generally accepted theory is that at an early stage of its existence, the solar system had a so-called protoplanetary disk. It consisted of dust and gas and surrounded the young Sun. The disc material later served as the building blocks for the formation of planets.
Oldest meteorites on Earth
In a new study, astronomers decided to study exactly how the formation of planets took place. To do this, they took the most suitable study material – the oldest meteorites found on Earth. Analysis of the samples led to an unexpected discovery.
A mysterious gap in the early Solar System
The results suggest that a mysterious gap existed in the protoplanetary disk about 4.567 billion years ago. It divided the solar system in two and was located not far from where the asteroid belt is now.
Caused by the young Jupiter?
However, the reason for the appearance of this mysterious gap remains an enigma for scientists. According to one of the versions proposed by the authors of the work, it could have been formed due to the powerful gravitational influence exerted by young Jupiter.
Scientists write that when the gas giant took its final form, its enormous gravitational force could push gas and dust to the outskirts of the solar system. The result was a “gap” that divided the inner and outer parts of the solar system.
However, the researchers also proposed an alternative explanation. It is associated with cosmic winds, which, in theory, escaped from the surface of the protoplanetary disk. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that all early planetary systems are governed by strong magnetic fields. When these fields interact with the protoplanetary spinning disk, they can create wind.
How powerful was this cosmic wind?
The power of the latter, according to calculations, could be enough to blow out space material from a part of the disk. This “blowing” over time led to the formation of a gap.
Was the mysterious gap beneficial for the evolution of the Solar System?
As the authors of the work write, regardless of the nature of its origin, the discovered gap in the early solar system probably served as a cosmic boundary. It did not allow the material located on either side to interact with each other. In turn, the absence of such interaction helped form the composition of the planets of the solar system, which is known to us today.
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• Borlina, C. S., Weiss, B. P., & Bryson, J. F. J. (2021, October 15). Paleomagnetic evidence for a disk substructure in the early solar system. Science Advances.
• Chu, J. (n.d.). Scientists find evidence the early solar system harbored a gap between its inner and outer regions. MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
• Luntz, S. (2021, October 18). The early solar system had a giant gap between its inner and outer regions. IFLScience.