A recent study has revealed that our solar system was born some 4.6 billion years ago after a supernova explosion. A cloud of gas and dust which eventually formed the Sun and its associated planets was disturbed. A gravitational collapse created the protosun, and its surrounding disc became planets.
If a star is larger than eight times the mass of the sun, it ends up with a spectacular explosion known as a supernova. Supernova is fairly common in the cosmos and occurs once every fifty years though it can happen more frequently also. The end of a Supernova is either a Black Hole or a neutron star.
The solar system is believed to have been formed as a result of a small mass supernova explosion. The supernova would have enough energy to compress such gas or dust cloud. However, there is no proof to support this theory and neither the exact nature of the triggering supernova.
The study was spearheaded by Professor Yong-Zhong Qian at the University of Minnesota in the US. His research team focused their attention on short-lived nuclei present in the early solar system. The short life of these nuclei could be possible after the triggering of the supernova. The abundance of these nuclei in the early solar system has been inferred from the decaying product in meteorites. Just like the leftover of bricks and mortar after the construction of a building, these nuclei which form the building blocks of the solar system are left behind as meteorites. Study of the meteorites helps us understand the composition of the early solar system.
These meteors tell us what the solar system is made of just after its formation triggered by the supernova. Studying these leftovers after the formation of the solar system is much like the forensic evidence which is collected after an incident to reach to the bottom of the truth.
The theory that the solar system must have been formed after a supernova explosion is not new. However, the study focused on massive supernova explosions which would not produce the kind of short-lived nuclei. It is only after considering a low mass supernova explosion; the researchers were able to trace such short-lived nuclei which were abundant in the meteorites. The researchers found Beryllium-10, a short-lived nucleus that has 4 protons and six neutrons, widely distributed in meteorites.