Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Atomic Particles Help Solve Planetary Puzzle

12.11.2009
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.

CONTACTS:
Fangzhen Teng, assistant professor, geosciences
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4524, fteng@uark.edu
Melissa Lutz Blouin, director of science and research communications
University Relations
479-575-5555, blouin@uark.edu

Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>