November 3, 2012
Milky Way’s Birth Record Not So Unique After All
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The formative stages of the Milky Way, once believed to have taken far longer to occur than other solar systems, may not have been as unique as scientists had previously thought, according to the authors of a new study.
Writing in the journal Science, researchers from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen report they have discovered a pair of vastly different materials, long believed to have been formed one after another, were actually formed more closely together chronologically than previous research had revealed.
The researchers used cutting edge methods of uranium and lead isotope analysis to study primitive meteorites containing calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) and chondrules. While scientists previously believed chondrules did not form until two million years after the earlier-forming CAIs, the new research suggests both materials actually formed within the first three million years of the Milky Way's development.
“By using this process to date the formation of these two very different types of materials found in the same meteorite, we are not only able to alter the chronology of our solar system´s historical development, we are able to paint a new picture of our solar system´s development, which is very much like the picture that other researchers have observed in other planetary systems,” said James Connelly, an associate professor with the Centre for Star and Planet Formation.
“In general, we have shown that we are not quite as unique as we once thought," added Professor Martin Bizzarro, head of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation. "Our solar system closely resembles other observable planetary systems within our galaxy. In this way, our results serve to corroborate other research results which indicate that earth-like planets are more widespread in the universe than previously believed."
In addition to Connelly and Bizzarro, Daniel Wielandt of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation and Natural History Museum of Denmark, Alexander N. Krot of the University of Hawaii's Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, and Marina A. Ivanova of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry in Moscow were credited as co-authors of the study. The paper, which is entitled "The Absolute Chronology and Thermal Processing of Solids in the Solar Protoplanetary Disk," was submitted for publication on September 14, 2012.