Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astrophysicists observe anomalies in makeup of interplanetary dust particle

27.02.2004


A photo of the nucleus of comet Wild-2 observed by the STARDUST spacecraft Jan. 2, 2004 (image courtesty of NASA-JPL). Inset (lower right) is a secondary image (green/blue) of an interplanetary dust particle (IDP) with a 15 nitrogen-enriched and 13 carbon-depleted (red/yellow) "hotspot" containing similar atomic interstellar molecules.The adenine molecule (N5C5H5) is one possible carrier of the 13 carbon and 15 nitrogen anomalies. Cometary IDPs were likely a major source of organic matter accreted by the prebiotic earth.


Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Washington University have seen carbon and nitrogen anomalies on a particle of interplanetary dust that provides a clue as to how interstellar organic matter was incorporated into the solar system.

Interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) gathered from the Earth’s stratosphere are complex collections of primitive solar system material and carry various isotopic anomalies. Using an ion microprobe that allows isotopic imaging at a scale of 100 nanometers, the astrophysicists conducted simultaneous carbon and nitrogen isotopic imaging measurements of the IDP, nicknamed Benavente. They noticed that the isotope carbon 13 decreased while nitrogen 15 increased in Benavente.

The results appear in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Science.



Interstellar molecular clouds are the principal formation sites of organic matter in the Milky Way. A variety of simple molecules are produced in dense cold clouds. At such low temperatures, where the difference in chemical binding energy exceeds thermal energy, mass fractionation produces molecules with isotopic ratios that can be very different from molecules found on Earth.

These anomalies may provide a fingerprint for how abiotic interstellar organic matter was incorporated into the solar system.

The authors concluded that the observation of correlated carbon and nitrogen anomalies establishes that IDPs contain heteroatomic organic compounds of presolar interstellar origins that are more complex than the simple compounds implied by earlier measurements. During the prebiotic period, Earth may have accreted as much as a centimeter of abiotic carbonaceous matter every million years, much of it settling to the surface within small, high-surface-area IDPs. "This constant flux of particulate organic matter continues to be delivered to the surface of terrestrial planets today and includes hetero-atomic interstellar molecules such as those found in Benavente. It is not unreasonable to speculate that heteroatomic interstellar molecular matter may be relevant to the origins of life on earth" said John Bradley, director of Livermore’s Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics and one of the authors of the paper. Other Livermore authors include Zurong Dai, Sasa Bajt and Giles Graham.


Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | LLNL
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov/llnl/06news/NewsReleases/2004/NR-04-02-15.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

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: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

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,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>