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Jupiter And Saturn’s Birthday Estimated In New Solar System Timeline

First Posted: Feb 14, 2017 05:19 AM EST
Solar System
The Solar System could have way more than just eight planets according to recently proposed criteria.
(Photo : The Sun Documentary/YouTube screenshot)

Scientists have estimated a new timeline for the Solar System, which is also enabling them to calculate the timeframe when gas giants Jupiter and Saturn formed. According to the astronomers, the two planets started to take form in the first 4 million years of the Solar System’s formation.

Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) studied the magnetic orientation of four angrites, which are ancient meteorites, that fell on our planet at different times in the past and were discovered in the Saharan desert, Antarctica, Argentina and Brazil. According to a Space.com report, these kinds of space rocks are a good marker to understand how the cosmic environment was during the Solar System’s early days.

The researchers said that the solar nebula generated a substantial magnetic field when it was generated, which would be recorded by the meteorites that originated during this time. However, the four angrites, which date back to 3.8 million years after the Solar System’s formation, showed little to no remnant magnetization. The near absence of magnetization in the angrites means that the solar nebula’s gas and debris have already dissipated by that time. Consequently, the findings imply that the large-scale structure of the solar nebula, including the gas giant planets, must have already taken place.

"Solar systems form out of the condensation of a gaseous nebula. We obtained an accurate and precise age for the lifetime of our solar system's ancient solar nebula and the magnetic field," study co-author Benjamin Weiss said. "We found that the solar nebula and magnetic field had dispersed 3.8 million years after the solar system’s formation.” The study offers a precise estimate of the solar nebula's lifetime, and therefore, the research team of scientists feels that it will help to understand when and how the other planets in the Solar System formed.

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