On October 12th delegates attending the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) meeting ‘Early Solar System Processes on Meteorites’ will discuss the competing theories. The meeting is being held in honour of the late Robert Hutchison, who was a distinguished meteorite expert at the Natural History Museum and used early Solar System samples to deduce how asteroids formed.
One group of scientists believes that the partial melting of asteroids led to the formation of chondrules, mm-size melt droplets which make up many meteorites. Another camp is convinced that asteroids grew from cold particles in the solar nebula and that the chondrules formed beforehand. There are currently two main ways of studying this question: one is to analyse the composition and age of primitive meteorites, the other makes use of similarly primitive grains collected from Comet Wild-2 by the NASA Stardust space probe, which returned a sample to Earth in January 2006.
Like other comets, Wild-2 began life in the earliest stages of the Solar System, more than 4500 million years ago. At that time the rocky, metallic and icy material that ultimately formed the planets started to form larger bodies. Ices of water, ammonia, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide condensed in the cold outer parts of the Solar System. Most of the ices ended up as part of the gas giant planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – but some remained in much smaller bodies 1-10 km across that eventually formed the cores (nuclei) of comets.
Comets that have spent most of their lives at a great distance from the Sun contain the least processed material in the Solar System, whereas in contrast an increasing number of scientists believe that asteroid surfaces were extensively melted. For example, one theory put forward by Dr Ian Sanders of Trinity College Dublin is that the presence of radioactive material created enough heat to partially melt the building blocks of planets and asteroids (planetesimals) found in the early Solar System. When these objects collided they would have created great clouds of molten droplets, the predecessors of the material found in asteroids today.
Meeting chair Dr John Bridges of the University of Leicester is part of the international team studying grains from Wild-2 and hence the early history of the Solar System. Dr Bridges comments ‘There has been a vigorous debate for many years about how the earliest planetesimals formed – either from cold accumulation of dust and gas from the nebula and interstellar space or through impact and radioactivity-induced melting. By studying Comet Wild-2 and primitive meteorites we are starting to reveal the true nature of a violent early Solar System where many of the earliest planetary building blocks underwent repeated collisions and melting episodes.’
Robert Massey | alfa
See, understand and experience the work of the future
11.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms
08.12.2017 | Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences