A supernova is one of the brightest and most spectacular phenomena in the universe. It results from the explosion of a star when its core becomes so dense that it collapses and the star collapses into itself. This process releases a huge amount of energy, which spreads throughout the cosmos in the form of an explosion wave. If a supernova exploded close enough to the solar system, it could lead to its destruction.
However, as experts from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan found out, our planetary system was saved by a giant molecular thread. The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, describes how a molecular thread acted as a buffer, which dampened the blast wave and saved the solar system from disaster.
A molecular filament is a giant cloud of molecular gas that surrounds the solar system. It acts as a protector, absorbing and trapping the flux of isotopes that scientists have already discovered in meteorites these days. In addition, the molecular thread directed some of the radioactive isotopes from the blast wave into the young solar system, whose objects absorbed them into themselves, forming their unique chemical composition.
As the paper’s authors write, stars form in large groups, called clusters, inside giant clouds of molecular gas. The latter are filamentous. Small stars, such as our Sun, usually form along such filaments, while large stars tend to appear at nodes where several filaments intersect.
Just along the dense thread of molecular gas is where our Sun appeared. And the supernova exploded at the node closest to us. Calculations have shown that the blast wave would take at least 300 thousand years to destroy the dense filament around the forming solar system. However, the cosmic “attack” lasted for about the first 100 thousand years of the formation of the Solar System.
Researchers believe that it was the dense molecular filament that saved the solar system, which acted as a buffer and dampened the blast wave. This allowed our planetary system to continue its evolution and become what we see it today.
In addition, the discovery that the molecular filament saved the solar system from catastrophe may help scientists better understand the processes taking place in the universe. It could lead to new discoveries and a better understanding of how life arises and evolves in the cosmos.