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Supernova may have kicked off solar system

Force of explosion could explain chemical mysteries contained within asteroids

4:09pm, November 11, 2011

Scientists have found a recipe for cooking the solar system from scratch: take a cold cloud of gas, and set it 15 light-years from an exploding supernova. Stun the cloud with the supernova’s shockwave. Incubate, and watch as the solar system begins to take shape.

New computer simulations support this scenario, which is a plausible recounting of the solar system’s birth, reports a team of scientists in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal. “With the supernova, you have one triggering event, and you don’t have to invoke a complicated chain of events,” says study author Matthias Gritschneder, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Understanding how the local solar neighborhood grew up is crucial for learning how other planetary systems are born.

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