A research team led by National Science Foundation-funded University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Yong-Zhong Qian uses new models and evidence from meteorites to show that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system. About 4.6 billion years ago, a cloud of gas and dust that eventually formed our solar system was disturbed. The ensuing gravitational collapse formed the proto-Sun with a surrounding disc where the planets were born. A supernova--a star exploding at the end of its life cycle--would have enough energy to compress such a gas cloud. Yet there was no conclusive evidence to support this theory. In addition, the nature of the triggering supernova remained elusive.
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