Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Atomic Particles Help Solve Planetary Puzzle

A University of Arkansas professor and his colleagues have shown that the Earth’s mantle contains the same isotopic signatures from magnesium as meteorites do, suggesting that the planet formed from meteoritic material. This resolves a long-standing debate in the field over the planet’s origins.

Fangzhen Teng, assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas, and Wei Yang and Hong-Fu Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences report their findings in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The researchers examined magnesium isotopes in chondrites – meteorites containing elements formed from the condensation of hot gases in the solar system. They also looked at samples from different depths in the Earth’s mantle. Isotopes have the same chemical properties, but different weights, so some processes cause what looks like the same material to behave differently. The different proportions of isotopes within a rock can tell scientists something about the original source of the material.

Magnesium makes a particularly good marker for planetary origins because, first, isotopes of magnesium can be separated during evaporation and condensation in the solar system and, second and more uniquely, one isotope of magnesium, Mg26, is a decay product of Al26, which existed in the early solar system for less than 5 million years. Thus, materials with different origins and ages contain different amounts of Al26, which results in different amounts of magnesium isotope.

“Isotopes are very sensitive to sources of material,” Teng said. “We can use isotopes as a tool to further understand planetary origins.”

Teng’s group analyzed different types of rocks from different depths of the Earth’s mantle from a site in North China and compared the results to those of samples from chondritic meteorites. They looked at magnesium isotopes in samples from the whole rock, but they also separated out minerals from the rocks and examined the magnesium isotope composition of these minerals as well.

“The samples from Earth were slightly different from one another,” Teng said. Their compositions also matched closely with those of the meteorites, the researchers report.

“That’s very strong evidence that Earth has a chondritic magnesium composition,” Teng said.

Teng is a professor in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences.

Teng’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Fangzhen Teng, assistant professor, geosciences
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
Melissa Lutz Blouin, director of science and research communications
University Relations

Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

More VideoLinks >>>