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Science & Technology

Meteorite Sheds Light on the Sun’s Infant Years

  • 10 Apr 2019
  • 4 min read
  • By analyzing a piece of meteorite found in Kazakhstan in 1962, researchers have envisaged how the Sun behaved in its infancy.

Findings

  • Researchers found that during initial years Sun was able to generate superflares which were a million times stronger than the strongest solar flare ever recorded at the 1859 Carrington event.
    • The solar storm of 1859 (also known as the Carrington Event) was a powerful geomagnetic storm during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867).
    • A solar flare is a sudden flash of increased brightness on the Sun, sometimes they are also accompanied by a coronal mass ejection.
  • Such superflares must have taken place 4.5 billion years ago when the Sun was barely forming.
  • Researchers also inferred that irradiation by such superflares from the Sun is the sources of elements like beryllium-7.
  • Among the first-formed solids of the solar system were the calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAI). The CAIs are nearly 4.5 billion years old.

Terms Related to Rocks of Space

  • Asteroid: These rocks are generally found between Mars and Jupiter in an orbit called the asteroid belt.
    • These are usually the fragments of a planet that never came together.
    • Sometimes asteroids after being ejected from the main belt, intersect earth orbits.
  • Comet: It is a chunk of ice and rock originating from the outer solar system. Some of them occasionally get gravitationally pulled towards the inner solar system, with the possibility of hitting Earth.
    • When passing close to the Sun, the comet warms and begins to release gases, a process called outgassing.
    • This produces a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail.
  • Meteoroid: a space rock that’s bigger than a dust grain but smaller than an asteroid. The dividing line between asteroid and meteoroid is fuzzy, but generally, space rocks bigger than boulders are asteroids and smaller ones are meteoroids.
  • Meteor: The streak of light seen when a space rock — an asteroid or a comet — enters the earth’s atmosphere and starts burning up. It’s the scientific synonym for “shooting star.”
  • Meteorite: If a meteor doesn’t entirely burn up, a piece of space rock that lands on Earth are called a meteorite.
  • Bolide: astronomers use the term to describe a bright fireball from an incoming meteor; geologists use it as a catch-all term for a comet or an asteroid that hits the Earth.

Coronal Mass Ejection

  • A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a significant release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field from the solar corona. They are often followed by solar flares.
  • Solar Flares on reaching earth causes spectacular light shows by interacting with the earth’s magnetic field called Aurora’s.
  • Solar Flares can also disrupt radio transmission and harm satellites in orbit.
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