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‘Curious and Curiouser!’ Meteorite Chunk Contains Unexpected Evidence of Presolar Grains

6 Feb 2020, 21:53 UTC
‘Curious and Curiouser!’ Meteorite Chunk Contains Unexpected Evidence of Presolar Grains
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An unusual chunk in a meteorite may contain a surprising bit of space history, based on new research from Washington University in St. Louis. Presolar grains -- tiny bits of solid interstellar material formed before the sun was born -- are sometimes found in primitive meteorites. But a new analysis reveals evidence of presolar grains in part of a meteorite where they are not expected to be found."What is surprising is the fact that presolar grains are present," said Olga Pravdivtseva, research associate professor of physics in Arts & Sciences and lead author of a new paper in Nature Astronomy. "Following our current understanding of solar system formation, presolar grains could not survive in the environment where these inclusions are formed."Curious Marie is a notable example of an "inclusion," or a chunk within a meteorite, called a calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI). These objects, some of the first to have condensed in the solar nebula, help cosmochemists define the age of the solar system. This particular chunk of meteorite -- from the collection of the Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies at the Chicago Field Museum -- was in the news once before, when scientists from the University of ...

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