Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Meteorite just one piece of an unknown celestial body

Date:
December 16, 2010
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Scientists from all over the world are taking a second, more expansive, look at the car-sized asteroid that exploded over Sudan's Nubian Desert in 2008, with major implications for the meteorite's origin. In the first round of research, scientists examined one fragment of the asteroid and determined that it fell into a very rare category called ureilites. Now they have expanded the scope of the work and examined 11 meteorite fragments, focusing on the presence of oxygen isotopes.

Scientists from all over the world are taking a second, more expansive, look at the car-sized asteroid that exploded over Sudan's Nubian Desert in 2008. Initial research was focused on classifying the meteorite fragments that were collected two to five months after they were strewn across the desert and tracked by NASA's Near Earth Object astronomical network.
Credit: Image courtesy of Carnegie Institution

Scientists from all over the world are taking a second, more expansive, look at the car-sized asteroid that exploded over Sudan's Nubian Desert in 2008. Initial research was focused on classifying the meteorite fragments that were collected two to five months after they were strewn across the desert and tracked by NASA's Near Earth Object astronomical network. Now in a series of 20 papers for a special double issue of the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, published on December 15, researchers have expanded their work to demonstrate the diversity of these fragments, with major implications for the meteorite's origin.

In the first round of research, Carnegie Geophysical scientist Doug Rumble, in collaboration with Muawia Shaddad of the University of Khartoum, examined one fragment of the asteroid, called 2008 TC3, and determined that it fell into a very rare category of meteorite called ureilites. Ureilites have a very different composition from most other meteorites. It has been suggested that all members of this meteoric family might have originated from the same source, called the ureilite parent body, which could have been a proto-planet.

Now Rumble has expanded his work to examine 11 meteorite fragments, focusing on the presence of oxygen isotopes. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have extra neutrons in their nuclei.

Rumble explains: "Oxygen isotopes can be used to identify the meteorite's parent body and determine whether all the fragments indeed came from the same source. Each parent body of meteorites in the Solar System, including the Moon, Mars, and the large asteroid Vesta, has a distinctive signature of oxygen isotopes that can be recognized even when other factors, such as chemical composition and type of rock, are different."

Rumble and his team prepped tiny crumbs of these 11 meteorite fragments and loaded them into a reaction chamber where they were heated with a laser and underwent chemical reactions to release oxygen and then used another device, called a mass spectrometer, to measure the concentrations of these oxygen isotopes. Results showed that the full range of oxygen isotopes known to be present in ureilites were also present in the studied fragments.

"It was already known that the fragments in the Nubian Desert came from the same asteroid. Taking that into account, these new results demonstrate that the asteroid's source, the ureilite parent body, also had a diversity of oxygen isotopes," says Rumble.

The diversity of oxygen isotopes found in ureilites probably arises from the circumstances of the parent this body's formation. Rumble theorizes that the rock components of this parent body were heated to the point of melting and then cooled into crystals so quickly that the oxygen isotopes present could not come to an equilibrium distribution throughout.

Together the collection of 20 papers published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science offer enormous insight about the formation and composition of ureilites and their hypothesized parent body.

This study was supported through a grant from NASA's Cosmochemistry program, a grant from NASA under the Planetary Geology and Geophysics program and a grant from NASA's Planetary Astronomy program. The samples were made available by the University of Khartoum.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Liping Qin, Douglas Rumble, Conel M. O’D. Alexander, Richard W. Carlson, Peter Jenniskens, Muawia H. Shaddad. The chromium isotopic composition of Almahata Sitta. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01109.x

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Meteorite just one piece of an unknown celestial body." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215151305.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2010, December 16). Meteorite just one piece of an unknown celestial body. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215151305.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Meteorite just one piece of an unknown celestial body." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215151305.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Astronauts Step out on Spacewalk for ISS Repairs

Two US Astronauts Step out on Spacewalk for ISS Repairs

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) Two US astronauts stepped out on a brief spacewalk Wednesday to install a backup computer at the International Space Station after one failed earlier this month. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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