May 30, 2024

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An unprecedented meteorite discovery challenges astrophysical models

An unprecedented meteorite discovery challenges astrophysical models

Researchers have discovered a rare dust particle in a meteorite, made from a star other than our Sun. Using advanced atomic probe tomography, they analyzed the particle's unique magnesium isotope ratio, revealing its origin from a newly identified type of hydrogen-burning supernova. This breakthrough provides deeper insights into cosmic events and star formation. Credit: SciTechDaily.com

Scientists have discovered a meteorite particle with an unprecedented magnesium isotope ratio, suggesting its origin from a hydrogen-burning supernova.

Research has discovered a rare dust particle trapped in an ancient extraterrestrial meteorite, formed by a star other than our Sun.

The discovery was made by lead author Dr Nicole Neville and colleagues during her PhD studies at Curtin University, who now works at the Institute of Lunar and Planetary Science in collaboration with… NASAJohnson Space Center.

Meteorites and pre-solar grains

Meteorites are mostly made of material that formed in our solar system and can also contain small particles that originate from stars that were born long before our sun.

Evidence that these particles, known as presolar grains, are leftovers from other stars has been found by analyzing the different types of elements found inside them.

Innovative analytical techniques

Dr. Neville used a technique called corn Probe tomography to analyze particles, reconstruct chemistry at the atomic level, and access the information hidden within.

Dr Neville said: “These particles are like celestial time capsules, providing a snapshot into the life of their parent star.”

“Materials created in our solar system have predictable ratios of isotopes — different types of elements with different numbers of neutrons. The particle we analyzed has a ratio of magnesium isotopes that is different from anything in our solar system.

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“The results were literally off the charts. The most extreme isotopic ratio for magnesium from previous studies of presolar grains was about 1,200. The grain in our study has a value of 3,025, the highest value ever discovered.

“This exceptionally high isotopic ratio can only be explained by formation in a recently discovered type of star – a hydrogen-burning supernova.”

Breakthroughs in astrophysics

Co-author Dr David Saxey, from the John D. Laiter Center at Curtin, said: “The research opens new horizons in how we understand the universe, pushing the boundaries of both analytical techniques and astrophysical models.

“The atom probe gave us a whole level of detail that we couldn't reach in previous studies,” Dr. Saksi said.

“A hydrogen-burning supernova is a type of star that was only recently discovered, around the same time we were analyzing the tiny dust particle. Using an atomic probe in this study gives us a new level of detail that helps us understand how these stars form.”

Linking laboratory results to cosmic phenomena

Co-author Professor Phil Bland, from Curtin School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said: “New discoveries from studying rare particles in meteorites enable us to gain insight into cosmic events outside our solar system.

“It is simply amazing to be able to correlate atomic-scale measurements in the laboratory with a recently discovered type of star.”

Search titled “Atomic element and isotopic investigation 25Magnesium-rich stardust from H-burning supernovae. It was published in Astrophysical Journal.

Reference: “Atomic scale element and isotopic investigation 25“Mg-rich Stardust from an H-burning Supernova” by N. D. Nevill, P. A. Bland, D. W. Saxey, W. D. A. Rickard, and P. Guagliardo, N. E. Timms, L. V. Forman, and L. Daly and SM Reddy, March 28, 2024, Astrophysical Journal.
doi: 10.3847/1538-4357/ad2996

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