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Scientists suggest surprising theory: Earth once flat, details

Scientists suggest surprising theory: Earth once flat, details Modeling has shown that the Earth might have been flat at some point (Photo: Unsplash)
Author: Daria Shekina

Scientists from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have discovered that young planets have flattened shapes. They become spherical as they mature, according to the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute website.

Why did scientists come to such a conclusion?

It is known that planets originate from protoplanetary disks composed of dust and gas surrounding stars. However, the mechanism of this process remains a subject of debate. The most popular theory is core accretion, where dust particles begin to clump together, forming larger objects that eventually transform into planets.

A less widespread but still plausible model is disk instability, where the disk breaks apart into particles after cooling, which then become planets. It is believed that this method of formation occurs more quickly.

Scientists suggest surprising theory: Earth once flat, details

Computer modeling of planet formation in a protoplanetary disk (photo: UCLan)

But they do not take into account a very important aspect - the shape young planets take on. This is what a team of researchers sought to investigate. To do this, they conducted simulations on a supercomputer.

"We have been studying planet formation for a long time but never before had we thought to check the shape of the planets as they form in the simulations. We had always assumed that they were spherical," said Dimitris Stamatellos, one of the authors of the study.

Scientists suggest surprising theory: Earth once flat, detailsModeled images of the flat protoplanet, shown from above (left) and from the side (right) (photo: UCLan)

It has been found that if planets indeed form through disk instability, their growth is likely to be heterogeneous: the majority of material accumulates near the poles, while less material gathers at the equator, resulting in the gradual acquisition of a flattened spheroidal shape resembling an elongated oval. However, over time, they likely align their shape and acquire a more traditional round appearance.

The study's authors emphasize that at this point, it is merely a simulation, and further observation of young planets is needed to confirm or refute this hypothesis.

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