Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Planets Were Formed From A Giant Mix, Suggests New Analysis

Date:
December 19, 2006
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Our Solar System may have been created in a gigantic mixing process far more extensive than previously imagined, according to new research. The findings, reported in the journal Science, come from the first analysis of dust fragments from Comet Wild-2, captured by NASA's Stardust spacecraft and brought to Earth in January 2006.

NASA's dust collector, which brought samples of Comet Wild-2 to Earth.
Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London

Our Solar System may have been created in a gigantic mixing process far more extensive than previously imagined, according to research published today.

Related Articles


The findings, reported in the journal Science, come from the first analysis of dust fragments from Comet Wild-2, captured by NASA's Stardust spacecraft and brought to Earth in January 2006. Because comets are among the oldest objects in the Solar System, the team, which includes researchers from Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, believes their sample of dust can provide insights into how Earth and other planets came to be formed.

Using spectroscopy technology which does not damage the mineral content of the particles, the team found that the comet dust is made up of many different mineral compositions rather than a single dominant one. This implies that the dust was formed in many different environments before coming together to make the comet, indicating a great deal of mixing in the early Solar System prior to the formation of planets.

Particularly significant was the discovery of calcium aluminium inclusions, which are amongst the oldest solids in the Solar System and are thought to have formed close to the young Sun. This discovery suggests that components of the comet came from all over the early Solar System, with some dust having formed close to the Sun and other material coming from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Since Wild-2 originally formed in the outer Solar System, this means that some of its composite material has travelled great distances. Dr Phil Bland of Imperial's Department of Earth Science and Engineering says:

"We weren't expecting to find such widely-spread material in the sample of dust we were given to examine. The composition of minerals is all over the place, which tells us that the components that built this comet weren't formed in one place at one time by one event. It seems that the Solar System was born in much more turbulent conditions than we previously thought."

The researchers have also found evidence of surprising variety in cometary composition. NASA's 2005 Deep Impact mission, which provided images of material blasted from the nucleus of the comet Tempel 1, revealed evidence of aqueous activity within the comet. However the dust from Wild-2 has none of those characteristics and apparently has not interacted with water at all. Anton Kearsley of the Natural History Museum says:

"This is a very interesting mismatch, and it seems that comets are not all the same. Perhaps they vary as much in their evolution as in the composition of the dust from which they are made."

This is the first time scientists have had the opportunity to study samples from a comet, having previously relied on studying comets from afar or analysing interplanetary dust particles of uncertain origin. Dr Bland adds:

"Comets are likely to be the oldest objects in our Solar System and their components have remained largely unchanged, so discovering more about what they have experienced gives us a snapshot of the processes that formed the planets over four and a half billion years ago. Fundamentally we still don't know how you make planets from a cloud of dust and gas. Hopefully the Wild-2 samples will help us towards an answer."

The analysis was carried out by the Impacts and Astromaterials Research Centre, a joint Imperial-Natural History Museum research group funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Planets Were Formed From A Giant Mix, Suggests New Analysis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061215090931.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2006, December 19). Planets Were Formed From A Giant Mix, Suggests New Analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061215090931.htm
Imperial College London. "Planets Were Formed From A Giant Mix, Suggests New Analysis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061215090931.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

Newsy (Mar. 28, 2015) Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year in space running tests on human physiology and psychology. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 28, 2015) Russian-U.S. crew arrives safely at the International Space Station for the start of a ground-breaking year-long stay. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) The Asteroid Retrieval Mission announced this week bears little resemblance to its grand beginnings. Even NASA scientists are asking, "Why bother?" Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) NASA TV footage shows the successful docking of a Russian Soyuz craft to the International Space Station for a year-long mission. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins