Home / Science / News /  Study suggest Earth's leaky core can hint at how the planet formed. Read here

An article published in the Journal AGU Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems have come up facts and theories that might suggest how the planet earth was formed. 

The study states that volatile exchange during Earth's formation and evolution implicates the metallic core as a leaky reservoir that supplies the rest of the Earth with helium-3. "Mainly produced by the decay of uranium and thorium, terrestrial Helium-3 is large of primordial origin, synthesized in the aftermath of the Big Bang (Bania et al., 2002) and incorporated into the Earth primarily during its formation," the paper said.

Earth's leaky core

The article says that scientists have discovered Helium-3, a a rare isotope of helium gas, leaking from the Earth's core. 

Helium-3-rare isotope of helium gas

Helium-3 is a light, stable isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron (the most common isotope, helium-4, having two protons and two neutrons in contrast). Other than protium (ordinary hydrogen), helium-3 is the only stable isotope of any element with more protons than neutrons. Helium-3 was discovered in 1939. 

This primordial gas was created shortly after the Big Bang and acquired from the solar nebula as the Earth formed.

What does helium-3 leakage indicate?

Experts have now estimated how much of this gas is leaking, which was previously only seen in the mantle.

The detection of Helium-3 indicates that Earth has deep reservoirs of this element, but its locations and abundances remain uncertain. It is worth mentioning that helium-3 can be produced by some natural processes as well, such as the radioactive decay of tritium, however, this primordial element is made primarily in the nebula.

The researchers modeled helium during early formation when the planet was accumulating helium and following the formation of the Moon, after which helium was lost. Scientists believe around 4 billion years ago, an object one-third the size of the Earth hit the planet that re-melted the Earth’s crust, allowing much of the helium to escape, which continues to this day.

The team estimated that each year, about 2 kg of the rare gas helium-3 escapes from Earth's interior.

"The core offers a possible reservoir for 3He because it is less vulnerable to large impacts compared to other parts of the Earth system, it does not participate directly in plate cycling, and it has remained mostly liquid over Earth's history," the paper said.

The scientists are now trying to go deeper under the surface to explore the true nature of the leak and understand the formation of the planet.

What is a Solar Nebula?

The Sun and the planets formed together, 4.6 billion years ago, from a cloud of gas and dust called the solar nebula. A shock wave from a nearby supernova explosion probably initiated the collapse of the solar nebula.

According to NASA, Nebula are made of dust and gases—mostly hydrogen and helium. The dust and gases in a nebula are very spread out, but gravity can slowly begin to pull together clumps of dust and gas. As these clumps get bigger and bigger, their gravity gets stronger and stronger.

Eventually, the clump of dust and gas gets so big that it collapses from its own gravity. The collapse causes the material at the center of the cloud to heat up-and this hot core is the beginning of a star.

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