Tiny crystals in meteorites were witness to the Sun’s unruly behavior in its earliest years.
The Sun sends a lot more than Sunshine and rainbows our way. High-energy particles capable of messing with the nuclei of atoms stream off our star constantly. Earth’s magnetic fields shield us from many of the harmful effects of this energetic particles shower but not every solar system object is as protected.
The Sun was even more active, researchers found, in the earliest years of the solar system, before Earth existed. Scientists investigated tiny crystals from the Murchison meteorite that fell to Earth in 1969 — crystals called hibonites. These crystals were probably some of the earliest minerals to form in the solar system, emerging even before Earth did some 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists found that the hibonite crystals had lots of helium and neon atoms, a result of being bombarded by tons of energetic particles from an infant Sun. The results were described Monday in Nature Astronomy.