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Earth formed much faster than thought

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Paris Institute of Earth Physics have found that the proto-Earth’s predecessor, formed over a period of about five million years, is much faster than previously thought. An article by scientists is published in the journal Science Advances.

It has been traditionally assumed that proto-earth was formed as a result of random collisions between increasingly larger planetary bodies over several tens of millions of years. If we take the age of the solar system equal to 4.57 billion years, and present it in the form of 24 hours, then the formation of the proto-earth according to this theory took only 5-15 minutes.

But the new work of Danish scientists shows that this process could take much less time – only a minute and a half. New results confirm a later, alternative theory of planet formation through accretion of cosmic dust.

According to her, dust particles in the protoplanetary disk gradually stuck together, forming an increasingly large cosmic body.

In their study, scientists used the latest most accurate data on measurements of iron isotopes in various meteorites. The authors found only one type of meteorite material with a composition similar to that of the Earth – the so-called CI chondrites.

These celestial bodies have an age similar to the time of the formation of the solar system.

The results of the analysis showed that the process of formation of the proto-earth lasted only five million years. Around the same period, a core was formed on our planet, mostly containing iron.

Other meteorites, for example from Mars, tell us that in the beginning the iron isotopic composition of the Earth’s material was different. According to the authors of the work, most likely this is due to the thermal treatment of dust near the young Sun.

Based on evidence from the theory that planets form through accretion of cosmic dust, researchers believe that the same process can occur in other places in the universe. This means that other planets are likely to form much faster than if they grew solely from random collisions between objects in space.

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