A duo of scientists have come up with a bold new theory which states that aeons ago, our solar system was divided by a ring of dust and gas that affected the composition of planets as they formed, Live Science reports.
According to the media outlet, Stephen Mojzsis, a professor of geochemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Ramon Brasser, a researcher at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, came up with their proposal as they examined a theory regarding Jupiter acting as a gravitational wall that prevented mixing between the inner and outer disk of our nascent solar system.
Said theory was meant to explain the discovery made about two decades ago about the so called "pebbles", which serve as "the building blocks of planets", as the media outlet puts it, containing higher concentrations of organic molecules like carbon the farther said planets are located from the Sun.
The computer simulations recreating the growth of our solar system that Mojzsis and Brasser devised, however, showed that Jupiter simply couldn’t grow fast enough to prevent all carbon-rich pebbles from reaching the system’s core.
"Jupiter is a very inefficient gatekeeper. It's like a porous border [through which] immigrants from the outer solar system would have flooded the inner solar system", Mojzsis explained.
The theory that the scientists proposed instead postulates that our solar system was divided by a ring or possibly multiple rings of "alternating bands of high and low pressure gas and dust" that circled the sun and prevented the pebbles from moving inward.
The researchers reportedly based their hypothesis on data obtained by the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array which detected several young stars encircled by such "bull's-eye-like disks".
And as Mojzsis remarked, while these disks could’ve led to dust aggregating in "distinct groups", the Great Divide created by them wouldn’t have been fully sealed and thus would allow some carbonaceous pebbles reach Earth and create "the seeds of life" there.
The scientists published their findings in the Nature Astronomy journal.
However, one researcher from the Lund Observatory in Sweden who wasn’t involved in the study argued that while Mojzsis and Brasser "present work that illustrates the challenge of splitting the inner and outer solid reservoirs with a growing Jupiter, they do not make a similarly detailed ring model".
And until they come up with a ring model that shows how pebbles get trapped and planets grow in such traps, "it remains hard to strongly favour this ring model over other potential explanations."