Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Primitive Interstellar Dust Samples Provide Pre-solar Time Capsules

Date:
April 21, 2009
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Scientists have found some of the most primitive matter containing abundant interstellar material analyzed to date amongst dust particles collected from the upper atmosphere by NASA aircraft. The samples were gathered in April 2003 during the Earth's passage through the dust stream left behind by comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup.

Interplanetary dust particles showing pre-solar silicate grains and organic matter of interstellar origin.
Credit: H. Busemann

An international team of scientists has found some of the most primitive matter containing abundant interstellar material analysed to date amongst dust particles collected from the upper atmosphere by NASA aircraft. The samples were gathered in April 2003 during the Earth's passage through the dust stream left behind by comet 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup.

Related Articles


Dr Henner Busemann of the University of Manchester will present the results at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire on Tuesday 21st April.

“We found an extraordinary wealth of primitive chemical "fingerprints", including abundant pre-solar grains, true stardust that has formed around other earlier stars, some during supernova explosions, associated with extremely pristine organic matter that must pre-date the formation of our planets,” said Dr Busemann.

The interplanetary dust particles, which are only a few thousands of a millimetre in diameter, were analysed by an international collaboration from the UK, the US and Germany. Two grains appear to have percentage levels of material thought to match the nebula from which the Solar System formed. One dust particle contained four pre-solar silicate grains with an unusual chemical composition that matches predictions for silicates formed from cooling gas following a supernova explosion. One of these grains, a fragment of olivine, was found next to a hollow, globule of carbon, most likely of interstellar origin. Organic coatings are suspected to be the time-capsules that protected and secured the survival of some of these fragile stellar silicate grains in the radiating space environment.

"These tiny grains combine all the most primitive features, found to date only separately in various meteorites, samples from the Stardust mission and interplanetary dust particles. The particular collection scenario allows us speculate that we truly have samples of a known source, comet Grigg-Skjellerup, in our hands,” said Dr Busemann.

The group compared their findings with Deep Impact observations of comet 9P/Tempel 1 and analyses of samples from comet 81P/Wild 2 collected by Stardust. The comparison revealed surprising differences between the comets, which are all short-period comets with orbits constrained by Jupiter’s gravitational field. Comet 81P/Wild 2 was found to have incorporated much higher levels of material formed in the inner Solar System, however all the comets contained materials such as carbonates that commonly indicate the presence of water.

The primitive matter, containing unaltered samples of the building blocks of our Solar System, gives insights into the turbulent processes leading to the formation of our Solar System and also the fate of comets orbiting since their formation at the outer edges of our planetary system. While the planets in the inner solar system, such as Earth or Mars, once experienced harsh conditions and have changed substantially over the past 4.5 billion years, comets are believed to store the original material of the early Solar System, acting as ‘supersized refrigerators’.

“We still have much to learn from samples of primitive matter containing large amounts of interstellar grains. Aircraft offer a less costly way to collect cometary dust, albeit of unknown origin. Predictions and timed collection campaigns in the future offer an increased likelihood to analyse material from known comets without actually going there," added Dr Busemann.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Primitive Interstellar Dust Samples Provide Pre-solar Time Capsules." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421080504.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2009, April 21). Primitive Interstellar Dust Samples Provide Pre-solar Time Capsules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421080504.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Primitive Interstellar Dust Samples Provide Pre-solar Time Capsules." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421080504.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
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