UNITED STATES: The Earth may have undergone a much faster formation process than previously thought, according to a new theory proposed by a team of scientists.
The theory suggests that our planet formed from tiny, millimetre-sized pebbles that accumulated over just a few million years, rather than the previously assumed gradual collision of bodies over a hundred million years.
This rapid formation process also had significant implications for the presence of water on Earth. Contrary to the belief that water was delivered to Earth by icy comets, the new theory proposes that Earth obtained its water by actively “sucking up” water from its space environment during its formation.
As the young Earth swiftly accumulated dust and particles from the surrounding protoplanetary disc, it also captured some of the icy particles in the disc.
This mechanism ensured the presence of water during the Earth’s formation, eliminating the need for a chance event to deliver water later on.
The implications of this theory extend beyond Earth. It suggests that watery and habitable planets around other stars may be more common than previously theorised.
The finding could revolutionise the search for life outside our solar system, indicating a higher likelihood of finding planets with abundant water and potential habitability.
The team arrived at this theory by examining silicon isotopes as a gauge to measure the mechanisms and timescales of planet formation.
By analysing over 60 meteorites and planetary bodies, the researchers established a connection between Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system.
This connection led them to propose that the reliance on chance events for the presence of water diminishes, increasing the possibility of other planets having abundant water.
Martin Bizzarro, a professor at the Globe Institute and a research team member, explains that if there is a planet orbiting a star the size of the sun, then the planet should have water if it is at the proper distance. The new theory challenges long-standing beliefs about the formation of the earth and the presence of water.
By shedding light on our planet’s rapid formation and ability to obtain water through an active process, scientists gain a deeper understanding of the potential for life-sustaining conditions on other planets.
Further research and exploration in the field may uncover more clues about the prevalence of water and habitable environments in the universe.
As scientists continue to push the boundaries of knowledge, this groundbreaking theory opens up new avenues for exploration. It sparks curiosity about the origins of our planet and the possibility of life beyond Earth.