The notion that the earth and cosmos are billions of years old continues to present serious problems for evolutionary scientists. For instance, billions of years ago, the sun would only have glowed faintly, leaving nearby earth totally frozen. But with no liquid water on earth’s surface, how could life have evolved and become fossilized so long ago?

This conundrum has been called the “faint young sun paradox,” and after 25 years of research, it remains just as problematic as ever. Scientists have tinkered with models of what they thought were atmospheres that might have kept earth warm. But sunlight would have prevented an ammonia-caused greenhouse earth, and earth’s oldest rocks show that the atmosphere was not dominated by the mild greenhouse gas carbon dioxide either.

Since researchers have found no solutions to the faint young sun paradox through planetary geophysics, some now look to reconfigure the sun’s evolutionary history. A team of researchers funded by the NASA astrobiology program plans to test new models of a sun that may have been large enough and that also existed early enough to have heated the earth billions of years ago.

Penn State University’s Steinn Sigurdsson will lead the team using a powerful computer program to model the early sun. He told Astrobiology Magazine that “to provide enough planet warming without overstepping any solar constraints, the Sun had to lose the extra mass in roughly the first few hundred million years.…That implies a solar wind that is about 1,000 times faster than what we currently observe.”1 Sigurdsson and his team plan to look for “stretch marks” left by such a tremendous break in solar wind….

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