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.CONTACTS:
Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy