A new study shows that some ancient meteorites, dating back billions of years, contain grains of stardust that are actually older than the solar system itself.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that these grains, from dying carbon stars, are very small, only a few millimeter in diameter, but dated back more than 4.6 billion years.
Using a plasma ion source, they found some evidence of isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, magnesium and aluminum in “micron-sized pre-solar silicon carbide grains” from the CM2 Murchison meteorite, which fell in Australia in 1969.
Some of them were coated with solar materials on the surface, said lead author of the study, Nan Liu.
Some ancient meteorites contain stardust grains that are more than 4.6 billion years old, older than the solar system itself
Experts have found evidence of isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, magnesium and aluminum
Carbon stars, which are bright red giants, have atmospheres made up of a higher proportion of carbon than oxygen.
“Pre-sun granules were embedded in meteorites 4.6 billion years ago, sometimes covered with solar material on the surface,” Liu said.
“With improved spatial resolution, our team was able to see Al contamination on the surface of a grain and obtain true stellar signatures by including signals only from the grain core during data reduction.”
Due to the small size of the grains, the researchers (lead author Nan Liu, pictured) used a mass spectrometer to study them, giving them unprecedented accuracy.
Due to the small size of the grains, the researchers used a mass spectrometer to study them, giving them unprecedented accuracy.
In 2020, a separate group of researchers found that some grains in the CM2 Murchison meteorite were 5.5 billion years old.
These “pre-solar” grains came from the CM2 Murchison meteorite, which fell in Australia in 1969.
The largest part of this meteorite, which fell in Victoria, Australia, is in the collections of the Chicago Field Museum.
Researchers studied pre-sun grains from the Murchison meteorite that fell on Victoria, Australia, in 1969 – the largest part of which is preserved by the Field Museum in Chicago.
For context, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Sun is about 4.6 billion years old.
It is worth noting the isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, because they are directly related to different types of carbon stars, due to their isotopic ratios.
“The new isotopic data obtained in this study is exciting for stellar physicists and nuclear astrophysicists like myself,” added study co-author Maurizio Bosso, from the University of Perugia.
In fact, the proportions of ‘strange’ N isotopes of presolar [silicon carbide] In the past two decades, cereals have been a notable concern.
The new data explains the difference between what was originally in the stardust grains and what was attached later, thus solving a longstanding mystery in the community.
One surprising discovery is that these carbon stars likely produce aluminum (and a surprising amount) in their cores, according to the model.
“As we learn more about the sources of dust, we can gain additional knowledge about the history of the universe and how the various stellar bodies within it evolve,” Liu said.
The study was published in the scientific journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Explanation: The difference between an asteroid, a meteorite, and other space rocks
that asteroid A large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most of them are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.
a comet It is a rock covered with ice, methane, and other compounds. Their orbits take them far from the solar system.
a meteor It is what astronomers call the flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns.
This same wreck is known as a meteor. Most of them are so small that they flow into the atmosphere.
If any of this meteorite reaches Earth, it is called a meteor.
Meteorites, meteorites, and meteorites usually originate from asteroids and comets.
For example, if the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, a lot of debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.