The Cradle of the Solar System

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1504, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 06/2004; 304(5674):1116-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1096808
Source: PubMed


The recent discovery of decay products of 60Fe in meteorites challenges
conventional wisdom about the environment in which the Sun and planets
formed. Rather than a region like the well-studied Taurus-Auriga
molecular cloud, the solar system must have formed instead in a region
more like the Eagle nebula--a region that contained one or more massive
stars that went supernova, injecting newly synthesized radionuclides
into the nascent solar system. In their Perspective, Hester et al.
discuss a scenario by which the solar system--and other low-mass stars
like the Sun--could have formed. Radiant energy from massive, luminous
stars first compresses surrounding interstellar gas, triggering the
formation of Sun-like stars, then quickly disperses this material,
exposing newborn stars and their protoplanetary disks to harsh radiation
from the massive stars. When the massive stars go supernova, they pelt
surrounding protoplanetary disks with ejecta laden with the products of
stellar nucleosynthesis that are required to explain the isotopic
composition we see today.

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Available from: Steven J. Desch, Jun 07, 2015
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    • "Low mass stars such as the Sun can be formed in massive star-forming regions such as the Orion nebula or relatively isolated regions where only low-mass stars are formed, such as Taurus (Hester and Desch 2005). However, isotopic studies of meteorites that confirm the presence of short half-life radionuclides such as 60Fe (with a half-life of 1.5 Myr) in the young solar system suggest that a supernova explosion occurred near the Sun (Hester et al. 2004, Hester and Desch 2005, Mostefaoui et al. 2005, Tachibana et al. 2006), indicating the birth of the solar system in a massive star-forming region. "
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    ABSTRACT: We present a wide-field (∼6′ × 6′) and deep near-infrared (K s band: 2.14 μm) circular polarization image in the Orion nebula, where massive stars and many low-mass stars are forming. Our results reveal that a high circular polarization region is spatially extended (∼0.4 pc) around the massive star-forming region, the BN/KL nebula. However, other regions, including the linearly polarized Orion bar, show no significant circular polarization. Most of the low-mass young stars do not show detectable extended structure in either linear or circular polarization, in contrast to the BN/KL nebula. If our solar system formed in a massive star-forming region and was irradiated by net circularly polarized radiation, then enantiomeric excesses could have been induced, through asymmetric photochemistry, in the parent bodies of the meteorites and subsequently delivered to Earth. These could then have played a role in the development of biological homochirality on Earth.
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    ABSTRACT: Large-scale astrometric and photometric data bases have been used to search for and confirm stellar membership of the open cluster IC 2391. 125 stars were found that satisfied criteria for membership based on proper motion components and BRI photometry from the United States Naval Observatory B (USNO-B) catalogue and JHK photometry from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) catalogue. This listing was compared with others recently published. A distance to the cluster of 147.7 ± 5.5 pc was found with mean proper motion components, from the Tycho2 catalogue of (−25.04 ± 1.53 mas yr−1; +23.19±1.23 mas yr−1). A revised Trumpler classification of II3r is suggested. Luminosity and mass functions for the candidate stars were constructed and compared with those of field stars and other clusters.
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    ABSTRACT: We explain why the presence of short-lived radionuclides like 60Fe in the early Solar System demands a nearby supernova. Observations suggest the Solar System disk had already formed and was < 1 pc from the supernova. We discuss the consequences.
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