Clear evidence in a Chinese meteorite for the past presence of chlorine-36, a short-lived radioactive isotope, lends further support to the controversial concept that a nearby supernova blast was involved in the formation of our solar system, according to a report forthcoming in the February 1 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (to be published online today).
Known as the Ningqiang carbonaceous chondrite, the primitive meteorite is a space relic that formed shortly after the solar systems creation. It contains pockets of still older materials or "inclusions" that contain that contain calcium, aluminum and sodalite, a chlorine-rich mineral.
A Chinese-American team of scientists including Yangting Lin, Ziyuan Ouyang and Daode Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Yunbin Guan and Laurie Leshin from Arizona State University found the rare isotope sulfur-36 in association with the sodalite. Though it can be formed in various ways, sulfur-36 is a natural decay product of chlorine-36 and its association with the chlorine in the sodalite is thus strong evidence for the past presence of chlorine-36, which has a half-life of only 300,000 years, in the early solar system.
James Hathaway | EurekAlert!
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