Rare primordial gas leaking from the Earth’s core? – What new research shows

Rare primordial gas leaking from the Earth’s core?  – What new research shows

One extremely rare type of helium created immediately after Big Bang leaks from the Earth’s metal coreAccording to a new modeling study.

The vast majority of this gas in the universe, called helium-3is primordial and created immediately after the Big Bang that happened about 13.8 billion years ago. This helium-3 must have joined the other gas and dust particles in the solar nebula – the vast, spinning, and collapsing cloud that is thought to have led to the formation of the solar system.

THE The discovery that the Earth’s core probably contains a huge helium-3 reservoir is further evidence to support the idea that the Earth formed in a thriving solar nebulanot in its periphery, as the researchers report.

Helium-3 is “a miracle of nature and an indication of Earth’s history, that there is still a significant amount of this isotope inside the Earth,” he says. The lead author of the study, Peter Olson, is a geophysicist at the University of New Mexico.

Helium-3 (helium-3) is an isotope, or variant, of the helium that has one neutron instead of the usual two at its core. It is a rare gas, accounting for just 0.0001% of the sun on Earth. It is derived from various processes, such as the radioactive decay of tritium, a rare radioactive isotope of hydrogen. But because the sun is one of the first elements in the universe, most of helium-3 probably came from the Big Bang.

The scientists already knew that about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of helium-3 escapes from the Earth’s interior each year, mainly along the ridge system of the middle ocean where the tectonic plates meet, the researchers wrote in the study, which was published online in March 28 at Geochemistry.

That’s “enough to fill a balloon the size of your office,” Olson said.

But scientists were unsure exactly how much helium-3 came from the nucleus opposite the mantle and how much helium-3 was in Earth’s reservoirs.

For the investigation, the research team modeled the abundance of helium during two important phases of Earth’s history: the early formation of the planetwhen the sun was still shining and after the formation of the moon, when our planet lost a lot of this gas. Scientists believe the moon formed when a colossal object the size of Mars collided with Earth about 4 billion years ago.

This would have melted the Earth’s crust and allowed much of the sun inside our planet to escape.

However, the Earth did not lose all of its helium-3 at that time. It still retains some of the rare gas, which continues to leak from the Earth’s depths. The core would be a good place for such a reservoir, “because it is less vulnerable to high impacts compared to other parts of the Earth system,” the researchers wrote in the study, and is not involved in the tectonic plate cycle, which also releases gas gas.

The researchers combined the modern helium-3 leakage rate with models of helium isotope behavior. These calculations revealed that between 22 billion pounds (10 telegrams) and 2 trillion pounds (1 pound) of helium-3 hang in the Earth’s core – a huge amount, indicating that the Earth formed in a solar nebula with high gas concentrations.

Their gas exchange models “exchange during the formation and evolution of the Earth involving the metal core as a leaky tank that supplies the rest of the Earth with helium-3,” the researchers wrote in the study.

The researchers hope to find more evidence to support their findings. For example, finding other gases created by nebulae, such as hydrogen, leaking from Earth at similar points and at similar rates as helium-3, could indicate that the nucleus is the source, Olson said. .

“There are many more mysteries than certainties.”


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