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Earth May Once Have Been Donut Shaped, Study Suggests

First Posted: May 24, 2017 05:00 AM EDT
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The Earth may have not always been the round and spherical object that humans equate it with today. According to a new study, the planet may once have been a “spinning, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock.” The proposed new type of planetary object has been called synestia.

According to a Zee News report, a synestia is a spinning planetary world that is created when planet-sized objects collide with each other. Scientists currently believe that rocky planets like Venus, Earth and Mars formed in a young solar system when smaller objects collided with each other. The collisions took place with such force and violence that the resulting bodies melted and partially vaporized. Subsequently, they cooled and solidified to become the spherical planets that they are today.

The research team modeled what happens when Earth-sized rocky planets smash into other large objects with high momentum and energy. To conduct the study, “We looked at the statistics of giant impacts and found that they can form a completely new structure,” scientist Sarah Stewart said, as reported by The Indian Express.

Based on the study, the researchers discovered that planet-sized objects could create a new and much larger structure like an indented disk over a range of high temperatures and momenta -- rather like a donut with its center filled. The object is mostly vaporized rock that has no solid or liquid surface. The key to a synestia formation is that some of the material from the structure go into orbit.

According to the researchers, most planets may possibly experience collisions that could create a synestia at some point of their formation. Moreover, for a planet like Earth, the synestia state would not last for a long time -- at the most a hundred years. After this time period, the planet would have lost enough heat to condense back into a solid object. The research team also added that the case is different for hotter or larger objects such as stars or gas giant planets, where the synestia state can last for a longer time.

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