Researchers find new information about Earth's origins
(NC&T/DC) Their study appears in Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science, on October 5, 2006.
"Supernovae are dying stars that burst with tremendous energy creating new isotopes and throwing a huge amount of material into interstellar space," says Sharma. "There are two mechanisms that forge isotopes in a supernova-some are produced by high temperature disintegration of previously existing isotopes and others by neutron-induced transmutations. It has been commonly thought that a single type of supernova supplied isotopes to the primordial soup that was the hot and spinning solar nebula. By investigating the samarium and neodymium isotopic composition of primitive meteorites, which are building blocks of planets, we find that those isotopes that were produced by high temperature disintegration did not mix well in the solar nebula while those generated by neutron-induced transmutations did."
This finding led the researchers to conclude that there was more than one type of supernova matter. A possible reason for a sluggish mixing in the solar nebula is the increase in the grain size from the sun outwards, which then would affect how isotopes were absorbed on the surfaces of grains.
This research also has a bearing on using the samarium and neodymium isotopes in meteorites as way to understand the evolution of Earth and other planets. The researchers found that carbonaceous stony meteorites that come from the distant edge of the asteroid belt possess a distinct blend of samarium and neodymium isotopes in comparison with the stony meteorites with little carbon, an asteroid called 4 Vesta, and the Moon.
|Mukul Sharma and Rasmus Andreasen. (Photo: Joseph Mehling)|
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