The solar system's 'Great Divide' explained
A ring that once existed in the solar system could explain the divide between rocky and gas planets.
BOULDER, COLORADO — A separation known as the Great Divide splits the rocky planets and the gas planets in our solar system.
According to the latest paper published in Nature Astronomy, researchers can now explain how the divide came to exist.
Citing the researchers, University of Colorado's news release says that rocky planets in the sunward side of the divide are poor in carbon and other organic materials.
The opposite is true for the gas planets beyond the divide, such as Jupiter, which is rich in carbon.
The paper theorizes that billions of years ago, the sun may have once had a massive ring structure with alternating high and low pressure bands.
Those bands would separate matter into distinct sinks, one forming Jupiter and Saturn, and another Earth and Mars. This results in the Great Divide.
A paper co-author says that the pressure barrier was not impenetrable, as enough materials from outer space have likely crossed over.
The carbon rich material that had climbed the divide would then play a role in the evolution of life on Earth.
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