A team of scientists recently proposed the existence of a new type of planetary object that is, in fact, old. Called the synestia, this could reportedly help unravel the mystery behind the formation of Earth, its Moon, and not only them.
According to the team behind this new theory, the synestia has quite an odd shape. This planetary object could be shaped like a doughnut as a result of its formation process. It was presented as being the consequence of a planet slamming into another, and an early form of world.
“We show that rocky planets are vaporized multiple times during their formation, and are likely to form synestias,” said Simon Lock and Sarah Stewart.
They are the authors of this new report and part of Harvard University. The two explain that changing the structure of a planetary object can also change its understanding.
Multiple aspects of its formation might be very different if the hot, rotating space body was, in fact, shaped like a doughnut.
The Synestia, the Doughnut-Shaped Result of Space Impacts
Researchers have yet to determine exactly how our planet came to be as it is, but the most widely accepted theory goes as follows. Some billion years ago, a hypothetical space object, the size of Mars and called Theia, formed in the orbital path of a protoplanet that eventually resulted in Earth.
The so-called “giant impact” saw these two space bodies collide, with this cataclysmic blow resulting in masses of flying debris. According to this theory, the remains of Theia and the protoplanet became Earth proper. But this does not explain answer a question: what became of Theia?
Lock and Stewart challenged this model and offered one of their own. According to them, as a very hot, big and spinning object collides with another spinning object when at a very high angular momentum, the most evenly matched and violent such event would result in synestias. These would be a molten core surrounded by haloes of vaporized rock.
The resulting synestia would them most likely last for some hundreds of years, and then condense and turn back into a solid. Study researchers believe that most of the existing planets may have passed through a synestia stage.
Research results are available in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. If confirmed, this new theory may fill in some of the missing data on the formation process of planets. “Synestia” comes from “syn” or “together” in Greek, and Hestia, the Ancient Greek goddess of the hearth, home, and architecture.
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