'Great Divide' that impacted life on Earth found in our solar system

Posted Tuesday, 14 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)On Earth, the "Great Divide" is a boundary that runs through North America, separating the rivers that flow west from the rivers that flow to the east. Now, scientists believe they've discovered how a similar divide was created in our solar system, according to a new study. Looking at our solar system, the divide seems obvious: On one sidethere are terrestrial planets like Earth and Mars. Then, on the other side, there are the gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. A divide seemingly kept the material responsible for these types of planets from mixing together in the early days of the solar system, preventing outer material from mingling with the inner. But what preserved this composition?According to a study published Monday 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. "The most likely explanation for that compositional difference is that it emerged from an intrinsic structure of this disk of gas and dust," said Stephen Mojzsis, study co-author and geological sciences professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "The Great Divide [in North America] causes water to drain one way or another. It's similar to how this pressure bump would have divided material in the solar system."But the divide itself probably wasn't a solid gatekeeper for materials, which means that there was likely some mixing. And that small mixing could be why life exists on Earth. "Those materials that might go to the Earth would be those volatile, carbon-rich materials," Mojzsis said. "And that gives you water. It gives you organics."So what does our solar system's divide look like today? Empty space, the researchers said. The region is near Jupiter and beyond the asteroid belt, and it's largely a void.But looking at planets, it's more obvious. On one side of the divide, planets and asteroids are low in organic materials. On the other, distant side -- past Jupiter and heading towards the outer solar system -- they are carbon-rich. Previously, scientists believed Jupiter itself was responsible for the divide. But even the largest planet in our solar system couldn't block rocky material from moving towards the sun. Ultimately, scientists realized that our sun was once likely surrounded by a disk, much in the same way as other young star systems that have been observed. The distant systems resembled a tiger's eye, based on infrared observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array of telescopes in Chile, the researchers said.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Robert De Niro reserves his right to speak up, so that's exactly what he did in his SAG Awards speech on Sunday night. While accepting his lifetime achievement award, the legendary actor voiced his support for his union and called on voters to look...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A New Jersey fire department's pit bull just became the first of its breed to become an arson detection K9 officer.Hansel, a 4-year-old pup known for his cheerful energy and constant kisses, graduated from training on Friday, officially becoming a...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)China has reported 139 new cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus, including a third death, as the outbreak spreads beyond the city where the virus was first identified. Health authorities in Beijing confirmed two cases...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Brad Pitt probably doesn't need help getting people to swipe right on Tinder, but a SAG Award can't hurt, right? On Sunday, the "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" actor picked up the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Americana singer and songwriter David Olney, whose music was recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, Emmylou Harris and others, died of an apparent heart attack while performing on stage in Florida Saturday, according to a statement on his website. ...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Austin (CNN)President Donald Trump touted his two recent trade policies Sunday night at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual conference, but his biggest applause line came when he went off script to talk about impeachment. "We're achieving what...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday night that "we will force votes on witnesses and documents" in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump that gets underway in earnest this week."And it will be up to four Republicans to...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

This analysis was excerpted from the January 20 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Sign up here to receive it every weekday morning. (CNN)As Donald Trump sees it, America lucked out with a good...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Amazon comedies swept their way through early TV prizes at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, including the second consecutive best ensemble win for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and actor Tony Shalhoub, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the Emmy-winning...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)While most kids would ask for the hottest toys for their birthday, five-year-old Tyler Sliz from Libertyville, Illinois, asked for something unexpected -- bedding ... yes, like blankets, pillows and sheets. In a video to guests of his birthday...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

London (CNN Business)The oil and gas industry needs to work harder and faster to tackle the climate crisis if it wants to remain profitable, a leading energy group says.Oil and gas companies should do much more to respond to the threat of climate change, ...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

London (CNN Business)Global inequality is "out of control" because of biased economic systems that exclude many women while allowing billionaires to amass huge fortunes that do little for society, according to Oxfam International. The charity is calling...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Having a difficult time keeping your New Year's resolution to get fit?Michelle Obama wants to help.The former first lady on Sunday shared her go-to workout playlist to "offer a little inspiration.""It's about that time when New Year's resolutions...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be presented Sunday.Going into the night, the casts of "Bombshell," "Marriage Story" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" lead film nominees with four each, while the "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" leads...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Skeletal remains that were found in Joshua Tree National Park last month have been identified as 51-year-old Paul Miller, a Canadian man who went missing in 2018, according to officials. The remains, along with personal items...