According to a new study, scientists were able to identify a part of the ancient interstellar dust from which the Solar System, including the Earth, has formed with billions of years ago. This finding is “surviving pre-solar interstellar dust that formed the very building blocks of planets and stars,” as it was described by Hope Ishii of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the leading author of this study, who hopes to find more about the planetary formation processes.
The dust was collected from the Earth’s upper atmosphere where it was deposited by the comets which whizzed near Earth, over the time. As these comets flew next to our Sun, the dust they released in they fly reached Earth and stocked up in the upper atmosphere from where the scientists collected it and examined it using electron microscopes.
“These interplanetary dust particles survived from the time before the formation of the planetary bodies in the solar system, and provide insight into the chemistry of those ancient building blocks,” explained James Cliston, the study’s co-author.
This ancient interstellar dust might help scientists better understand the planetary formation processes
The dust is actually composed of nanoparticles called GEMS (Glass Embedded with Metal and Sulfides), small glassy materials that do not exceed 1/100th the thickness of a human hair, as reported by USA Today.
According to Hope Ishii, now that the scientists have found the building blocks of the planets in our Solar System, including Earth, they can learn more about the planetary formation processes and about the processes that influenced the evolution of the planets.
Ethan Siegel, a renowned astrophysicist, commented on the importance of the recent discovery stating that this is “an enormous discovery and if the conclusions stand the test of time, we may have just revolutionized our understanding of how all planetary systems come into being.”
The scientists involved in discovering this ancient interstellar dust in the Earth’s atmosphere have published yesterday an initial report on this finding but they will further study the dust to learn more about the planetary formation processes.