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January 5 2013

Titan holds clue to faint young sun paradox


Earth should have been an ice cube in the very early days of our solar system, when the sun was cooler than today. Yet the primordial Earth was a watery sphere. This "faint young sun" paradox has puzzled researchers for decades, but now a look at the atmosphere of one of Saturn's moons suggests a new solution.

For the first two billion years of the Earth's existence, the sun was up to 25 per cent dimmer than it is today, making Earth's average temperature up to 25 °C colder. But the geological evidence is that Earth had liquid water at this time, even though the average surface temperature should have been around -10 °C.

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