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Solar system could have evolved from poorly mixed elemental soup

Date:
September 16, 2016
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
Chondrite meteorites contain a puzzling mismatch in isotopic composition with Earth's crust. The mismatch puzzles scientists because they long believed that Earth formed from planetary objects similar to meteorites. A new paper explains how this mismatch could have come about.
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Nicolas Dauphas, the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences, holds a chondrite meteorite that contains a puzzling mismatch in isotopic composition with Earth's crust. The mismatch puzzles scientists because they long believed that Earth formed from planetary objects similar to meteorites. Dauphas and his colleagues present research that explains how this mismatch could have come about.
Credit: Jean Lachat/University of Chicago

Planetary scientists have long believed that Earth formed from planetary objects similar to meteorites. Then, a decade ago, perplexing new measurements challenged that assumption by showing that Earth and its supposed "building blocks" actually contain significantly different isotopic compositions.

For the past 10 years, scientists have been trying to understand why. Recent work by the University of Chicago's Christoph Burkhardt (now at the University of Muenster in Germany) and Nicolas Dauphas, together with their collaborators from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Münster, suggest a new explanation that may help illuminate both the composition of Earth and the beginnings of the solar system itself.

"These recent measurements contribute to the growing evidence that the meteorites delivered to Earth provide an imperfect match to Earth's composition," said Richard Carlson, director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Carlson was one of the scientists who found the compositional mismatch between meteorites and Earth 10 years ago. "This realization opens new views both to how Earth formed and to the bulk chemical composition of our home planet."

The study will be published in the Sept. 15, 2016, issue of Nature.


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Materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Burkhardt, L. E. Borg, G. A. Brennecka, Q. R. Shollenberger, N. Dauphas, T. Kleine. A nucleosynthetic origin for the Earth’s anomalous 142Nd composition. Nature, 2016; 537 (7620): 394 DOI: 10.1038/nature18956

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University of Chicago. "Solar system could have evolved from poorly mixed elemental soup." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160916110636.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2016, September 16). Solar system could have evolved from poorly mixed elemental soup. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160916110636.htm
University of Chicago. "Solar system could have evolved from poorly mixed elemental soup." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160916110636.htm (accessed May 8, 2017).