A full study about this recent finding has been published in Science on Jan. 22
A new research has discovered that the chronology and split in volatile and isotope content of the outer solar system can be explained through a two-step formation process. This discovery was made by an international team of researchers from the University of Oxford, LMU Munich, ETH Zurich, BGI Bayreuth, and the University of Zurich.
Their paper, which has been published in Science on Friday, January 22, 2021 has provided a new theory on the formation and structure of the solar system that explains unanswered questions regarding the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus and Mars), outer solar system (Jupiter), and the numerous asteroids and meteorites that are included in it.
The two steps
This paper explains why the inner solar system planets are small and dry with little water by mass, and the outer planets are a lot bigger and contains large amounts of water. According to them, the planets are formed in two distinct steps:
The inner terrestrial protoplanets grew by gradual accumulation of matter and were heated internally by strong radioactive decay, causing them to dry out and split the inner wet planetary population. Internal magma oceans were formed, became iron cores, degasses the planet’s initial volatile content, and eventually caused the planet to have a dry composition.
On the other hand, outer solar planets formed later and hence experienced a lesser amount of internal heating and therefore produced a limited iron core formation and volatile release.
The research was funded by the Simon’s Collaboration on the Origins of Life, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the European Research council.
Reference: “Bifurcation of planetary building blocks during solar system formation” by Time Lichtenburg, Joanna Drazkowska, Maria Schönbächler, Gregor J. Golabek and Thomas O. Hands.
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