About 4.6 billion years ago, something disturbed a cloud of gas and dust – and the gravitational collapse formed a proto-Sun, with a surrounding disc.
Now scientists believe they know what that ‘something’ was – a supernova explosion from a nearby star.
Professor Yong-Zhong Qian of the University of Minnesota focused on remnants found in meteorites.
‘This is the forensic evidence we need to help us explain how the solar system was formed,’ Qian said. ‘It points to a low-mass supernova as the trigger.’
Qian and his colleagues analysed Beryllium-10 – a mysterious short-lived nucleus found in meteorites.
‘The findings in this paper have opened up a whole new direction in our research,’ Qian said.
‘In addition to explaining the abundance of Beryllium-10, this low-mass supernova model would also explain the short-lived nuclei Calcium-41, Palladium-107, and a few others found in meteorites. What it cannot explain must then be attributed to other sources that require detailed study.’