(ORDO NEWS) — The planet closest to the Sun is still a mystery to scientists. New research suggests that parts of this planet, which was once a super-Mercury, may have arrived on Earth in the early days of the solar system.
New research shows that this planet Mercury was much larger and was destined for a collision that blew it apart. Some of them landed on Earth, scientists say.
The planet we see today is the remnant of a super-Mercury that existed billions of years ago. This theory was proposed at a conference on lunar and planetary sciences in Houston.
Scientists have studied a small fraction of the meteorites found in the village of Aubre in France that could match the conditions on Mercury.
Obrites (named after the place where they fell in the Obre) are pale in color and contain a small amount of metal. They make up a small fraction of the 70,000 meteorites that have been found worldwide.
Most of the meteorites came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and a large number came from Mars and the Moon. Currently, 80 obrite meteorites have been found on Earth.
“Obrites have similar mineralogy to the lavas of Mercury and therefore are considered as potential analogues of the Mercury crust. However, it was previously thought that these were not Mercurial meteorites based on chemical and physical arguments of asteroid origin,” said Camille Cartier from the University of Lorraine in France.
While Mercury today does not have a mantle, unlike Earth, according to scientists, proto-Mercury (or super-Mercury) once possessed a large silicate mantle that was shattered by a giant impact.
While the team of astronomers doesn’t yet have a sample of Mercury, they say it’s likely that a lot of the jettisoned debris from the collision is captured by the planets’ gravity as they approach.
They calculated that up to 20 percent of the fragments could collide with Venus and about 5 percent with Earth.
“If proto-Mercury were 0.3 to 0.8 Earth masses and lost most of its mantle, this would potentially represent 1 to 2.5 percent of the Earth’s mass of obritic material accreting toward Earth,” the paper says.
However, scientists have not yet announced that these strange materials are part of Mercury, as another group has suggested that they originated from E-type asteroids.
If it is proved that these space rocks are indeed fragments of the planet Mercury, this would mean that fragments of the ancient planet were on Earth billions of years before the appearance of man.
Scientists hope to learn more about the planet and its mysterious origins when the BepiColombo mission (a European-Japanese project) orbits the first planet from the Sun in 2025.
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