UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Researchers at the University of California at Davis (US) are close to understanding the processes that led to the formation of the Earth, according to the portal Phys.org.
There are three main hypotheses about the origin of our planet. One suggests that the Earth grew relatively quickly (from two to five million years), capturing the water and gases necessary for life from the clouds surrounding the young Sun.
The other one speaks about dust particles that have been transformed under the irradiation of the Sun into celestial bodies – planetesimals, which became the source of the necessary compounds.
According to the third theory, the Earth developed slowly and due to meteorites rich in water, oxygen and nitrogen.
Mantle neon illuminates Earth's formation: The Earth formed relatively quickly from the cloud of dust and gas around the Sun, trapping water and gases in the planet's mantle, according to research published Dec. 5 in the journal Nature. Apart from… https://t.co/DP9AOCpYqn pic.twitter.com/B2fkfDtvsR
— Electric Universe (@Elec_Universe) December 5, 2018
To determine which of the ideas is closest to the truth, scientists analyzed the ratio of neon isotopes captured by the Earth’s mantle during the formation of the planet. Neon is a noble inert gas, which, unlike water vapor, carbon dioxide or nitrogen, is not affected by chemical and biological processes.
Therefore, he always keeps information about his origin, says Professor Sujata Mukhopadhyay.
Three isotopes are distinguished – neon-20, 21 and 22. All of them are stable and non-radioactive, but neon-21 is formed during radioactive decay of uranium.
Thus, the number of neon-20 and neon-22 remains unchanged from the moment of birth of the planet, from which researchers conclude that each of the three theories of the formation of the Earth should be characterized by its own ratio of isotopes 20 and 22.
To determine this coefficient, the researchers studied samples of pillow lava. These vitreous rocks form during submarine or under-ice eruptions. An expedition led by experts from the University of Rhode Island took samples from the bottom of the Atlantic, after which they became available to all scientists.
The researchers destroyed the rocks in a sealed chamber and analyzed the composition of gases, capturing emissions from a sensitive mass spectrometer. As a result, they obtained the ratio of neon isotopes for three hypotheses about the origin of the Earth. It turned out that the coefficient corresponding to the theory of the “mantle of the Earth” is higher than that of the “hypothesis of planetesimals” and the model of “long development.”
“This is a clear indication that there is nebular neon in the deep mantle of the Earth. Considering that it is a marker for other gases, the substances necessary for life – hydrogen, water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen – accumulated simultaneously.”
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