Earth may have been born in a huge flare-up of the young sun 

Posted: May 9, 2017 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics

Credit: NASA

Another alternative to collision theories of Earth’s formation emerges, as New Scientist reports. Where or how the Moon might fit in is not clear.

It’s not easy to make Earth. Most of the explanations for how our planet formed have troubling problems.

But if a new idea is right, we can thank a hyperactive young sun for Earth’s existence, plus solve a long-standing mystery about Mars.

According to standard lore, the planet-building process began when dust particles orbiting the newborn sun stuck together, forming rocks that built still larger objects. But this story is in trouble.

“I’ve been really, really disturbed by the problem of making terrestrial planets,” says Alexander Hubbard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. These planets are the first four from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. They’re mostly made of rock and iron – whose particles don’t readily stick together. They could have been sticky enough if they had a coating of snow and organic goo, Hubbard says.

But despite all Earth’s oceans and carbon-based life, our planet has too little water or carbon to support this explanation. Now Hubbard has suggested an intriguing solution to Earth’s difficult birth. 

In 1936, an infant star began to brighten, eventually shining over 100 times more brightly than it did originally. Now named FU Orionis, this star has stayed bright ever since. And several other stellar youngsters have done the same thing.

Here comes the sun

What if the newborn sun also did this? The outburst would have partially melted dust grains, making them sticky enough to become the seeds of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. “You naturally expect a terrestrial planet pattern that looks a lot like our own solar system if you have an FU Orionis-type event,” Hubbard says.

Meanwhile, in solar systems that didn’t experience such an eruption, dust grains would only be molten closer to the star, leading to compact systems like Kepler-11, as other astronomers suggested in 2014.

“It’s an interesting idea,” says Andrew Youdin at the University of Arizona, noting the difficulty of explaining terrestrial planet formation. “There’s clearly a major problem here, and so all ideas need to be looked at.”

Continued here.

  1. dscott says:

    Such a possibility should not be unexpected. Consider the power of our sun currently throwing CME’s periodically. The size of sunspots are many times earth’s diameter. Is it so far fetched that the sun ejects spent products of fusion into space, i.e. iron and other elements ? The sun’s size is massive so the idea of it ejecting planet sized material is not outside the realm of reason.

  2. Stephen Richards says:

    No good reason for such an hypothesis.

  3. Tenuc says:

    dscott says:
    “Such a possibility should not be unexpected…”

    Yes, I agree. I’ve long thought that our sun gave birth to our planets during periods of intense activity spaced over a long period of time. First spinning the large outer gas planets out, followed by the smaller rocky inner planets as the activity burst died down.

    Our moon would have been formed at the same time as Earth was ejected and has probably always orbited in a similar way to what we see today.

    Ejected masses that didn’t get into orbit would either have been ejected from the solar system completely, or fallen back to be absorbed into the sun.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Then there’s Velikovsky with his controversial Jupiter-Venus theory 😉

    “We conjectured that the comet Venus originated in the planet Jupiter”

    And this…
    Planet Birthing
    Posted on May 25, 2003 by Wal Thornhill

    Are planets formed slowly by accretion over millions of years or “born” suddenly and violently from a larger body? Does the solar system have a more complex history?

    The likelihood is extremely high that planets do not form slowly. The accretion disk model is riddled with assumptions about initial conditions and glosses over many problems that have remained stubbornly unsolved. For example, there are severe problems in getting a rotating nebula to collapse gravitationally to form a star in the first place. The large rotational momentum of a cosmic nebula has somehow to be dissipated. And an embedded magnetic field conspires to prevent collapse. The Nobel Prize winner, the late Hannes Alfvén, wrote in Evolution of the Solar System, “..the ‘generally accepted’ theory of stellar formation may be one of a hundred unsupported dogmas which constitute a large part of present-day astrophysics.”
    – – –
    NB this isn’t an endorsement of any given theory, just to show the ideas aren’t entirely new.

  5. Zeke says:

    “I’ve been really, really disturbed by the problem of making terrestrial planets,” says Alexander Hubbard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. These planets are the first four from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. They’re mostly made of rock and iron – whose particles don’t readily stick together.

    The Nebular Hypothesis is already a string of events that entails too many very perfectly-timed processes.

    Adding a frying event will require just-so timing and will come off like reading a cake recipe for starting up a planet from dust. First collapsing and igniting the sun, then adding eons of collisions of particles and rocks which do not smash the planetesimal to bits; baking it at appropriate times; cooling it; then flooding it; spontaneously generating a magnetic field, and adding the arrival of a moon. You will also have to migrate the gas giants.

    You can do that in cosmogony. But it comes off as awfully fortuitous that the firing events don’t occur during the phase when the flooding events deliver the oceans to this planet. And it would clear away future materials for planet-building.

    On the other hand, as Wal Thornhill has pointed out, stars expel billions of tons of material all of the time. The discs around stars, and Saturn’s rings, may be expulsion discs, not collapsing clouds.

    Also in support of the planetary fission theory is the fact that most stars are binary. After super-novae events in the past, companion stars have been discovered. In that case, it may be that stars become electrically stressed and fission into two stars. Gas giants may also expel materials. The moons in the solar system are of highly varying material compositions and surfaces. So that is why some of us consider Electric Expulsion to be a rational theory.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Primitive atmosphere discovered around ‘Warm Neptune’
    May 11, 2017

    This primitive atmosphere suggests the planet most likely formed closer to its host star or later in its solar system development, or both, compared to the Ice Giants Neptune or Uranus.

    Crucially, the discovery could also have wide implications for how scientists think about the birth and development of planetary systems in distant galaxies. [bold added]

    The research is published in leading journal, Science, on May 11 2017.

    Read more at:

  7. que Bottle says:

    Interesting. I am not sure if I agree, however; the Great Oxidation Event goes in tandem with the Faint Young Sun Paradox. I thought it was nearly unanimously agreed upon that the cyanobacteria, which had, 2.3 billion years ago, taken to respiration and the release of huge amounts of methane. This, in itself, was the great GHG warming before the human-caused dilemma that we are in now, also due to GHG warming. I’ll look more into this! Thanks for writing — great work!

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