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The young Sun and the atmosphere and photochemistry of the early Earth

Abstract

The origin and evolution of the Earth's early atmosphere depend crucially on the dissipation time tN of the primitive solar nebula, SN. Using different theories of turbulence, we estimate that for a 0.1 M SN, tN is 2.5–8.3Myr. Because accretion times are usually much longer, we conclude that most planetary accretion must have occurred in a gas-free environment. Using new IUE data, a wavelength-dependent UV flux is constructed for the young Sun which is then used to study the photochemistry and concentrations of O, O2, O3, OH, H, HCO and formaldehyde H2CO in the Earth's early prebiological atmosphere.

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Canuto, V., Levine, J., Augustsson, T. et al. The young Sun and the atmosphere and photochemistry of the early Earth. Nature 305, 281–286 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1038/305281a0

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