Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Supernova Radioisotopes Show Sun Was Born In Star Cluster, Scientists Say

Date:
October 5, 2006
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
The death of a massive nearby star billions of years ago offers evidence the sun was born in a star cluster, say astronomers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rather than being an only child, the sun could have hundreds or thousands of celestial siblings, now dispersed across the heavens.

Astronomy professors Leslie W. Looney, left, and Brian D. Fields, and undergraduate student John J. Tobin take a close look at short-lived radioactive isotopes once present in primitive meteorites. The researchers’ conclusions could reshape current theories on how, when and where planets form around stars.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

The death of a massive nearby star billions of years ago offers evidence the sun was born in a star cluster, say astronomers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rather than being an only child, the sun could have hundreds or thousands of celestial siblings, now dispersed across the heavens.

Related Articles


In a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, astronomy professors Leslie W. Looney and Brian D. Fields, and undergraduate student John J. Tobin take a close look at short-lived radioactive isotopes once present in primitive meteorites. The researchers' conclusions could reshape current theories on how, when and where planets form around stars.

Short-lived radioactive isotopes are created when massive stars end their lives in spectacular explosions called supernovas. Blown outward, bits of this radioactive material mix with nebular gas and dust in the process of condensing into stars and planets. When the solar system was forming, some of this material hardened into rocks and later fell to Earth as meteorites.

The radioisotopes have long since vanished from meteorites found on Earth, but they left their signatures in daughter species. By examining the abundances of those daughter species, the researchers could calculate how far away the supernova was, in both distance and time.

"The supernova was stunningly close; much closer to the sun than any star is today," Fields said. "Our solar system was still in the process of forming when the supernova occurred."

The massive star that exploded was formed in a group or cluster of stars with perhaps hundreds, or even thousands, of low-mass stars like the sun, Fields said. Because the stars were not gravitationally bound to one another, the sun's siblings wandered away millennia ago.

Our solar system, rather than being the exception, could be the rule, the astronomers said. Planetary system formation should be understood in this context.

"We know that the majority of stars in our galaxy were born in star clusters," Looney said. "Now we also know that the newborn solar system not only arose in such a cluster, but also survived the impact of an exploding star. This suggests that planetary systems are impressively rugged, and may be common even in the most tumultuous stellar nurseries."

The work was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Supernova Radioisotopes Show Sun Was Born In Star Cluster, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061004151431.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2006, October 5). Supernova Radioisotopes Show Sun Was Born In Star Cluster, Scientists Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061004151431.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Supernova Radioisotopes Show Sun Was Born In Star Cluster, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061004151431.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's SMAP Satellite Will Measure Wet Dirt From Space

NASA's SMAP Satellite Will Measure Wet Dirt From Space

Newsy (Feb. 1, 2015) NASA&apos;s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite mission will collect data to help forecast crop productivity, floods, droughts and wildfires. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Russia&apos;s space agency created a video that shows what our sky would look like with different star if they were as close as our sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) walks us through the cool video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) NASA is remembering 17 astronauts who were killed in the line of duty and dozens more who have died since the agency&apos;s beginning. A remembrance ceremony was held Thursday at NASA&apos;s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins