About 4.6 billion years ago, some event disturbed a cloud of gas and dust, and triggered the gravitational collapse that led to the formation of our solar system. One hypothesis is that a nearby supernova—a star exploding at the end of its life cycle—initiated this event. With recent advances in modeling, it’s now possible to test this theory.
Theoretical physicist Dr. Yong-Zhong Qian and his research team have been using models and evidence from meteorites to show how a low-mass supernova may have triggered the formation of our solar system.
In this seminar he’ll explain how, by examining decay products in meteorites, his team hopes to locate the telltale patterns of short-lived nuclei, in particular Beryllium-10, produced by supernovae. Beryllium-10 is the result of the profuse emission of neutrinos by the neutron star forming at the supernova core, and it may be the key to proving a supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.
Dr. Qian also will examine why earlier forensic-evidence-based studies have been inconclusive and outline how recent results from modeling supernovae and their impact on star formation opened up new directions.
LearningLife seminars embrace Socrates's belief in inquiry and exchange. Seminars include both lecture and critical discussion.
Dr. Yong-Zhong Qian, PhD, University of California, is a professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota. His research explores how elementary particles such as neutrinos affect a plethora of phenomena, ranging from supernova explosions to galaxy formation in the cosmos. Dr. Qian has made important contributions toward understanding the production of the chemical elements in various astronomical environments. He has been a Fellow of the American Physical Society and currently serves on the editorial committee for Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science.