Looking at our Solar System, there is an obvious division between the terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars and gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. This barrier is what kept the materials responsible for building the planets on either side from mingling into each other. But there has really been something that preserved this composition for billions of years straight.
Scientists have now solved the mystery of ‘The Great Divide’ in our Solar System and contrary to what you might think, Jupiter has little role to play here.
According to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, a disk around the sun helped establish bands of specific material. These bands alternated high and low-pressure gas and dust. They may have also been responsible for concentrated areas of specific building blocks that created gas giants and terrestrial planets, respectively. Just like how the Great Divide running through North America drains water one way or the other, scientists believe that this pressure bump would have divided material in the solar system.
Origins of the Solar System’s ‘Great Divide’ Sheds New Light on How Life Originated on Earthhttps://t.co/RLevCzCiQq
— Sarah Spence (@SarahSp02818871) January 14, 2020
So, what does the solar system’s divide looks today? It looks like nothing – a void flanked between the asteroid belt and Jupiter. But, its effects sure manifest in the worlds that it holds apart. On one side of the solar system, planets and asteroids are low in organic materials, while on the far side they are carbon-rich.
Our Sun was once surrounded by a disk. In a similar way, it has been observed in young star systems. But this divide zone was not set in stone for gatekeeping the materials, which means there may have probably been some mixing at some point. This explains why life exists on Earth.
Previously, it was assumed that Jupiter, being the largest planet of our star system is responsible for this divide. But it got little ground, since the Jovian cannot block asteroids shooting towards the sun.