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article imageEssential Science: How our Sun went through the 'terrible twos'

By Tim Sandle     Aug 6, 2018 in Science
Astrophysicists, looking into the early phase of our Sun, have been studying, in conjunction, blue crystals in meteorites. These crystals show that our Sun went through the astronomical equivalent of the 'terrible twos'.
The new research comes from the Field Museum, which reports on an examination of tiny blue crystals trapped inside meteorites. By studying these crystalline fragments scientists have managed to determine what our Sun was like before the Earth formed. The fragments suggest that the Sun had a turbulent beginning. As the researchers analyzed the chemical composition of the meteorite crystals, they discovered atoms that would only be present if the early Sun was churning out high quantities of high-energy particles. The researchers have drawn an analogy, description this as the solar version of the Sun moving through the 'terrible twos.'
The Field Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum in the city of Chicago, and is one of the largest such museums in the world. As well as being a public exhibition space, the museum is home to many leading scientists engaged in research.
A close-up view of the sun via NASA s Solar Dynamics Observatory. A prominence eruption on the sun: ...
A close-up view of the sun via NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. A prominence eruption on the sun: an arc of gas can loop hundreds of thousands of kilometres into space, held for months by strong magnetic fields
The Sun is sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process, classified as a a G-type main-sequence star. According to NASA, the Sun and the rest of our solar system is about 4.6 billion years old.
Discussing the research, one of the scientists involved, Philipp Heck, explains: "The Sun was very active in its early life -- it had more eruptions and gave off a more intense stream of charged particles. I think of my son, he's three, he's very active too."
He adds: "Almost nothing in the Solar System is old enough to really confirm the early Sun's activity, but these minerals from meteorites in the Field Museum's collections are old enough. They're probably the first minerals that formed in the Solar System."
The crystals studied were ice-blue crystals called hibonite. Hibonite is a mineral, occurring in various colors, with a hardness of 7.5–8.0 (based on Mohs scale of mineral hardness) and a hexagonal crystal structure. On Earth, the mineral is found in high-grade metamorphic rocks on Madagascar.
The analysis of the little light blue crystals shows that the composition indicates they have been subject to a type of chemical reactions that could only have occurred if the early Sun was producing high levels of energetic particles. This is something that would have occurred some 4.5 billion years ago.
The sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers.
The sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers.
The implications of the study confirm that the Sun was far more active than it is today and far hotter. This type of research assists scientists in unraveling the formative years of the Solar System.
The research has been been published in the journal Nature Astronomy, with the paper titled "High early solar activity inferred from helium and neon excesses in the oldest meteorite inclusions."
Greenery on Pacific Ocean. California. January 2011.
Greenery on Pacific Ocean. California. January 2011.
Essential Science
This article is part of Digital Journal's regular Essential Science columns. Each week Tim Sandle explores a topical and important scientific issue. Last week we considered research from University of Tasmania which outline the challenges facing scientists and policy makers as the result of increasing levels of carbon dioxide, which are being absorbed by the world's oceans.
The week before we discovered that geologists have found the world's oldest colors, by examining some of the oldest rocks on Earth. The rocks were isolated from North Africa, and pigments were then extracted.
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