Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Ancient Meteorites Shed Light on Early Solar System

4.46 billion-year-old meteorite flew around in space before Earth was born Organic makeup of ancient meteorites sheds light on early solar system
Cary Marshall | 09 August, 2018, 05:23

Thought to be some 4.6 billion years old, the space rock is the oldest igneous meteorite-formed when molten rock cools and solidifies-ever discovered, scientists reported in the journal Nature Communications. As this cloud disintegrated it established a spinning disk with the Sun in the center.

When these early rocks are discovered on Earth, they act as time capsules to help scientists understand how planets formed and evolved over billions of years.

A never-before-seen space rock - older than Earth itself! - stands out among the 40,000 meteorites researchers have recovered so far.

The research offers undeviating proof that chemically developed silica-rich crustal rocks were sculpting on planetesimals within the first 10 million years before the congregation of the terrestrial planets and assists scientists further comprehend the difficulty of planet formation.

"The goal of this research was to understand the origin and formation time of an unusually silica-rich igneous meteorite", says co-author and ASU's Center for Meteorite Studies director, Meenakshi Wadhwa. And it's incredibly important and unusual way to look at the beginning of the Solar system that surrounds us, because the Earth has a tendency to destroy such records. Some of them look nearly like the crust of the Earth because they're so light colored and full of SiO2. The dealer sent the sample to Carl Agee, a planetary geologist and meteorite curator at the University of New Mexico.

The new research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), confirms that organic materials accreted in chondritic asteroids probably formed via basic chemical reactions during the infant stage of our Solar System.

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'Earth is a dynamic planet - processes such as plate tectonics and erosion have erased most of the early Earth records. Researchers say it's around 4.56 billion years old, making it the oldest meteorite ever found.

Most meteorites are formed through the collision of asteroids orbiting the sun in a region called the asteroid belt. It turned out that the first volcanoes were formed during the appearance of the Solar system.

Subsequent investigations using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry determined the precise formation age of the meteorite: 4.565 billion years. While some do look similar to what we can find on Earth, it is due to a high quantity of silica. "Meteorites like this were the precursors to planet formation and represent a critical step in the evolution of rocky bodies in our solar system". Then, our curiosity always pushes us to, to ask the question, how did they form, how did the Earth form?

Carbonaceous chondrites are made of the first solid materials - such as rocks, organics, water ice, and fine grain dust - formed in the Solar System.

"Ultimately, this is how planets are forged", he added.

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