Carnegie Institution for Science | 2019 Apr 15
An ancient sliver of the building blocks from which comets formed was discovered encased inside a meteorite like an insect in amber by a Carnegie-led research team. The finding could offer clues to the formation and evolution of our Solar System.
- The arrow in this view of the LaPaz meteorite points to where the scientists found the carbon-rich cometary fragment. The colors are produced by polarized light shining through a thin slice of the meteorite; the grid lines are spaced one millimeter apart. (Credit: Carles Moyano-Cambero/Institute of Space Sciences, Barcelona)
Meteorites were once part of larger bodies, asteroids, which broke up due to collisions in space and survived the trip through the Earth’s atmosphere. Their makeup can vary substantially from meteorite to meteorite, reflecting their varying origin stories in different parent bodies that formed in different parts of the Solar System. Asteroids and comets both formed from the disk of gas and dust that once rotated around our young Sun, but they aggregated at different distances from the Sun, affecting their chemical makeup. Compared to asteroids, comets contain larger fractions of water ice and far more carbon.
By studying a meteorite’s chemistry and mineralogy, researchers can reveal details about its formation and how much heating and other chemical processing it experienced during the Solar System’s formative years. ...
Team Finds Tiny Fragment of a Comet inside a Meteorite
Arizona State University | 2019 Apr 15
A Cometary Building Block in a Primitive Asteroidal Meteorite ~ Larry R. Nittler et al
- Nature Astronomy (online 15 Apr 2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41550-019-0737-8