by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Oct 26, 2017
Royal Astronomical Society
A research team led by Jurgen Blum (Technische Universitat Braunschweig, Germany) have analysed data from the historic Rosetta mission to uncover how comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or "Chury" for short, came into existence more than four and a half billion years ago.
Understanding the evolution of our solar system and its planets was one of the main objectives of the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For Jurgen Blum and his international team it was worth it, because results from the various Rosetta and Philae instruments have revealed that only one out of many proposed models can explain their observations. Comet 67P consists of 'dust pebbles' ranging between millimetres and centimetres in size.
Professor Blum explains the implications of the team's observations "Our results show that only a single model for the formation of larger solid bodies in the young solar system may be considered for Chury. According to this formation model, 'dust pebbles' are concentrated so strongly by an instability in the solar nebula that their joint gravitational force ultimately leads to a collapse."
This process forms Royal Astronomical Society
"Although it sounds very dramatic" Blum continues, "it's actually a gentle process in which the dust agglomerates are not destroyed, but are combined into a larger body with an even greater gravitational attraction - the accumulation of the dust agglomerates into a coherent body is virtually the birth of the comet." Due to the relatively small mass of comet 67P, the pebbles survived intact until today, allowing scientists to confirm the hypothesis for the first time.
In fact, the pebble-collapse formation model can explain many observed properties of comet 67P, for instance its high porosity and how much gas is escaping from inside. "Now all phases in the planet-formation model have been established", concludes Blum.
Laurel MD (SPX) Oct 20, 2017
Narrow dense rings of comets are coming together to form planets on the outskirts of at least three distant solar systems, astronomers have found in data from a pair of NASA telescopes. Estimating the mass of these rings from the amount of light they reflect shows that each of these developing planets is at least the size of a few Earths, according to Carey Lisse, a planetary scientist at ... read more
Royal Astronomical Society
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