This review examines our current understanding of the possible birth environments of our Solar System. Because most stars form within groups and clusters, the question becomes one of determining the nature of the birth aggregate of the Sun. This discussion starts by reviewing Solar System properties that provide constraints on our environmental history. We then outline the range of star-forming environments that are available in the Galaxy and discuss how they affect star and planet formation. The nature of the solar birth cluster is constrained by many physical considerations, including radiation fields provided by the background environment, dynamical scattering interactions, and by the necessity of producing the short-lived radioactive nuclear species inferred from meteoritic measurements. Working scenarios for the solar birth aggregate can be constructed, as discussed herein, although significant uncertainties remain.
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- September 2010
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 58 pages including 7 figures, to appear in Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010, Vol. 48)