All You Need to Know About the Formation of the First Continent of the Universe

Ever wondered when the very first continent was formed? Scientists have some idea. Here are the answers unveiled.

Astha Pasricha
Sep 22, 2023, 23:49 IST
All You Need to Know About the Formation of the First Continent of the Universe
All You Need to Know About the Formation of the First Continent of the Universe

What sets a researcher different from the crowd is his strong curiosity and will to find the answers. For instance, a researcher from Cardiff University, Whales, has attempted to find out when the first continents of the universe were formed. 

Jane Greaves was the researcher who tried to find out the possible answers. In his research named "When Were the First Exocontinents?", the astronomy professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy asserted that the attempt to look for other habitable planets in the solar system can get better in case the relation between continents and life is understood in a better manner.

Greaves states that by studying the radioactive elements that are there in the Earth's core, it should be possible to analyze when the first continents were formed in the universe. The researcher further states that the radioactive elements have emerged from the neutron star collisions. This leads us to know more about the universe by means of analyzing the mantle of the Earth.


How are life and the continents on a planet related?


There are so many elements that are crucial for life. Is plate tectonics one of the elements that is essential for life? Well, not really. However, plate tectonics plays a crucial role in regulating the temperature of the Earth by means of dissipating heat from the core.

The thermal control makes sure that there is no excessive heat buildup. Why is it necessary to prevent that? Well, the excessive heat could damage the protective magnetosphere of the Earth. This further leads us to dive deep into the evolution of life.

Additionally, the plate tectonics make the positioning of the Earth in the habitable "Goldilocks zone" possible. Interestingly, there was a time when plate tectonics weren't that active but early life on Earth emerged. However, plate tectonics became important for the evolution and persistence of complex life forms on Earth, such as the life form of humans.

The aim of the research done by Greave is to foster the search for habitable exoplanets. If plate tectonics are somehow proven to be important for life, then it would be easy to look for habitable planets as the focus of the study would include rocky planets as well.

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What's there inside the Earth?

Radioactive isotopes such as Thorium-232, Potassium-40, and Uranium-238 that emit heat when they undergo decay are found inside the core of the Earth.

According to Greaves, the history of the universe can be traced by focusing on such elements. 

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How is the research of benefit?


The work of Greave gives us a broader perspective in the venture of understanding the elements discussed above. The findings point out the fact that the continents' appearance on Earth showcases the middle ground.


A bit about tectonics


It was approximately 3 billion years ago when the plate tectonics of the Earth began. This occurred approximately 9.5 billion years after the inception of the universe. Greaves points out the fact that the continents created on thin disk stars are actually present from 2 billion years before the appearance of the Earth.

Moreover, the findings of her study also state that in the case of a majority of planets, the formation of the continents takes place at a slower pace in comparison to the blue planet.

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