The planets of the solar system, including the Earth, formed about four and a half billion years ago from a swirling disk of gas and dust that was left over from the newly formed Sun. However, we do not understand, why the Earth ended up being different from other Earth-like or «terrestrial» planets and how the earliest features, like the metallic core, developed. Research at ETH Zurich by Professor Alex Halliday, to be published in this week’s edition of Nature, claims to have found some answers.
It has generally been assumed that the Earth’s metallic core, which generates the magnetic field, formed by segregating dense metallic iron from the accumulated mixture of metal and silicate that was the primitive Earth. New modelling provides evidence that the core was most likely partly built by direct mixing of earlier formed planetary cores during extremely energetic collisions. Surprisingly, these proto-planets appear not to have had chemical compositions like the present Earth or even its closest neighbour the Moon. Instead, some of them were more like Mars. Indeed, Mars may be a very good analogue of what the Earth was like in its earliest stages of development.
«Embryoplanets» formed Earth
Alex Halliday | alfa
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