After much number crunching and analysis NASA boffins have announced the Sun is not our Father. Data returned by NASA’s Genesis space craft and analysed around the world suggests that Sun and Earth were formed separately. Like a giant paternity test scientists studied matter collected from the oldest part of the Sun and compared it to samples from the Earth. Sorry Sun you ARE NOT the Father, time for some more tests.
“We found that Earth, the moon, as well as Martian and other meteorites which are samples of asteroids, have a lower concentration of the O-16 than does the sun,” said Kevin McKeegan, “The implication is that we did not form out of the same solar nebula materials that created the sun — just how and why remains to be discovered.”
Planets like people have various markers that can be used to establish heritage, similar to the way we use DNA. In two separate studies Oxygen and Nitrogen were used in just this way. In the tiny world of atoms there are different flavours, or isotopes of common atoms. Just the slightest variation in the building blocks is enough. O-16 is a flavour of Oxygen that has 16 neutrons – neutrons are atom building blocks, – a sub-atomic particle – and the most common isotope of oxygen, nearly 100% of oxygen is of the O-16 kind. There is also a very small amount of O-17 and O-18, again the variation being caused by a different number of neutrons. Nitrogen is the same with N-14 being the most common and N-15 being very rare. When studying the ratio’s of these atoms present in the sun and planets scientists found the ratio’s of the Sun varied from those of the Earth, Mars and asteroids.
The Sun’s corona is thought to be completely unchanged from its original chemical make-up, when it was still a dusty nebulas. This is the perfect place to find a parents DNA sample or scientific baseline. NASA sent the Genesis spacecraft to do its bidding on August 8, 2001. Launched from Cape Canaveral Genesis was placed into halo orbit around the sun. Placed at just the right distance between the sun and the earth where the gravity of both is cancelled out. This equilibrium point is the Legrange Point L1. From this orbit satellites can sit indefinitely collecting data and samples blasted off by the suns fiery corona. Between 2001 and 2004 Genesis sat patiently collecting matter from the sun as it’s blasted free. The samples were then sent back to Earth in a return capsule, which unfortunately crashed into the Utah desert after the parachute failed. The surviving samples along with others samples collected from the Earth, Moon, Mars and meteorites, were divided up and sent to various groups around the world for study.
Nebula’s are great clouds of matter in deep space that are the birth place of sun’s and solar systems. In these clouds gravity works its wonders and solar systems are formed. After millions of years a ball of matter and gas emerges from the Nebula, Gravity will slowly draw it together untill the sun begins to burn – fusion reactions begin,. Planets form once the remaining matter condenses into a disk around the sun, looking like Saturn’s rings. This ring will eventually form the planets. This is just one form of Nebula – Latin for cloud - of which some are remnants of Supernova. New discoveries won’t really effect our understanding of Nebula, the discoveries relates to what happens when they leave home.
Recently there have been a number of other discoveries that also point to the fact that planets are mobile and their attachment to stars is fluid. While it may be easy to think of a planet and sun being locked in orbit, a permanent thing seems to be incorrect. The recent discovery of large numbers of free roaming – Loneliest Planets – suggests that planets are often knocked out of their original orbits. Blue straggler stars known for looking much younger than other surrounding stars were recently found to line the central bulge of the Milky Way. While the title ‘Alien Invader Stars’ is a headline grabber the story itself relates to the fact that there are star clusters from other galaxies in the Milky Way. All of these things are highlighting the very dynamic nature of planets, stars and galaxies.
While we are probably not related to the Sun it is after all the only one we have. Evidence is suggesting the Earth has been through some interesting events in its deep past, bouncing round the galaxy like a gap year student, what adventures did we get up to ? Unfortunately this is one of those discoveries that raises more questions than it answers. Where did we start off? Did we steal someone’s seat here at the Suns table ?. A curious mind could very easily get carried away with this train of thought, it is very primal after all.