Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New isotope measurement could alter history of early solar system

Date:
April 3, 2012
Source:
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
The early days of our solar system might look quite different than previously thought, according to new research. The study used more sensitive instruments to find a different half-life for samarium, one of the isotopes used to chart the evolution of the solar system.

Scientists have calculated a new value for the half-life of samarium, an isotope used to track how our solar system came into being. Above: Superheated plasma loops following a solar flare eruption.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

The early days of our solar system might look quite different than previously thought, according to research at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory published in Science. The study used more sensitive instruments to find a different half-life for samarium, one of the isotopes used to chart the evolution of the solar system.

Related Articles


"It shrinks the chronology of early events in the solar system, like the formation of planets, into a shorter time span," said Argonne physicist Michael Paul. "It also means some of the oldest rocks on Earth would have formed even earlier -- as early as 120 million years after the solar system formed, in one case of Greenland rocks."

According to current theory, everything in our solar system formed from star dust several billion years ago. Some of this dust was formed in giant supernovae explosions which supplied most of our heavy elements. One of these is the isotope samarium-146.

Samarium-146, or Sm-146, is unstable and occasionally emits a particle, which changes the atom into a different element. Using the same technique as radiocarbon dating, scientists can calculate how long it's been since the Sm-146 was created. Because Sm-146 decays extremely slowly -- on the order of millions of years -- many models use it to help determine the age of the solar system.

The number of years it takes for an isotope to decrease by half is called its half-life. Since Sm-146 emits particles so rarely, it takes a sophisticated instrument to measure this half-life.

The Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System, or ATLAS, is a DOE national user facility for the study of nuclear structure and astrophysics, and is just such an instrument. "It's easy for the ATLAS, used as a mass spectrometer, to pick out one Sm-146 atom in tens of billions of atoms," said physicist Richard Pardo, who manages the facility and participated in the study.

By counting Sm-146 atoms with ATLAS and tracking the particles that the sample emits, the team came up with a new calculation for its half-life: just 68 million years.

This is significantly shorter than the previously used value of 103 million years.

The new value patches some holes in current understanding, according to Paul. "The new time scale now matches up with a recent, precise dating taken from a lunar rock, and is in better agreement with dates obtained with other chronometers," Paul said.

The study was recently published in Science. Argonne scientists Catherine Deibel, Brad DiGiovine, John Greene, Dale Henderson, Cheng-Lie Jiang, Scott Marley, K. Ernst Rehm, Robert Scott, and Richard Vondrasek also participated in the study.

The work was supported by the DOE Office of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. The original article was written by Louise Lerner. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Kinoshita, M. Paul, Y. Kashiv, P. Collon, C. M. Deibel, B. DiGiovine, J. P. Greene, D. J. Henderson, C. L. Jiang, S. T. Marley, T. Nakanishi, R. C. Pardo, K. E. Rehm, D. Robertson, R. Scott, C. Schmitt, X. D. Tang, R. Vondrasek, A. Yokoyama. A Shorter 146Sm Half-Life Measured and Implications for 146Sm-142Nd Chronology in the Solar System. Science, 2012; 335 (6076): 1614 DOI: 10.1126/science.1215510

Cite This Page:

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "New isotope measurement could alter history of early solar system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403140040.htm>.
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. (2012, April 3). New isotope measurement could alter history of early solar system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403140040.htm
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "New isotope measurement could alter history of early solar system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403140040.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 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:

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