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What Was It Like When Our Solar System First Formed?

6 Mar 2019, 15:01 UTC
What Was It Like When Our Solar System First Formed?
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Artist’s impression of a young star surrounded by a protoplanetary disk. When nuclear fusion first ignited in our Sun’s central core, our Solar System may have looked very similar to this. (ESO/L. CALÇADA)What happened 4.56 billion years ago is the most important part of the cosmic story ever to happen to us.If you were to look at our Universe at the time our Solar System formed, nothing would look out of the ordinary. The Milky Way would appear relatively isolated: the second-largest member of a relatively small group of galaxies. Small, dwarf galaxies would be seen slowly merging and being acquired by larger ones, just like they would all over the Universe. And throughout the Milky Way, hundreds of billions of stars are already shining, with gas clumps occasionally contracting along its spiral arms to trigger new waves of star-formation. There are tens to hundreds of these regions active in our galaxy at any time.In one of those regions, 9.2 billion years after the Big Bang, our Sun, planets, and Solar System formed. Here’s what it was like when the Universe made what would become us.The very young protostar M17-SO1, as imaged with the Subaru telescope. This newly-forming object is ...

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