Sunday, December 18, 2011

Search for Elements pre-dating the Sun

Hey Space Placers!

Meteorites - space rocks - are pieces of the Moon, Mars, perhaps Mercury, and asteroids that fall to Earth and are found. They contain priceless information about not only the history of the body they came from but that of the solar system as well. Each meteorite found and collected adds to our knowledge of the solar system, and in very rare instances, provides a history that PREDATES our Sun.

Contained in some studied meteorites are what scientists call "pre-solar grains" - tiny bits of matter that were formed in a star other than our Sun. This star went supernova at some point creating elements beyond iron which were then dispersed into space. Some of this supernova's remnant material seeded the nebula of gas and dust that eventually formed our Sun, the planets, and the whole solar system.

Pre-solar grain

A scientist is going to search for such pre-solar system grains in a famous meteorite and has been awarded $1.38 million to do so for the next 3 years. The meteorite he will be using for his search came from a very famous meteorite event in Murchison, Australia - hence the meteorite's name "Murchison". He will use a pound of this material, worth probably at least $100,000, to search for these grains. He hopes "his findings will narrow the constraints on theoretical models of supernovae and the production of elements within them."

The search will probably yield multiple pre-solar stars such as red giants and supernovas. If successful, scientists will have better information on the formation of elements and the lives of stars.

Read More About It:

Sky Guy in VA

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