Supernova shrapnel slammed into meteorite

Supernova shrapnel provides clues to origins of solar system

U of Chicago
Talk about finding a needle in a cosmic haystack.  Scientists this week said they found microscopic shrapnel in a meteorite of a star they say exploded around the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

The findings suggest that a supernova sprayed a mass of finely grained particles into the cloud of gas and dust that gave birth to the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, scientists from the University of Chicago stated.  Through processes in the early solar system sorted these grains by size and led them to become disproportionally incorporated into the meteorites and planets newly forming around the Sun, the scientists stated. 

Amazing telescopes produce hot space images

In this case, scientists said faint traces of a supernova discovered in the Orgueil meteorite  account for the mysterious variations in the chemical fingerprint of chromium - chromium 54 to be precise -- found from one planet and meteorite to another.

Researchers have looked for the carrier of chromium 54 for the last 20 years but only recently have instrumentation advances made it possible to find it, the scientists stated.   

The grain measured less than 100 nanometers in diameter -- 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. "This is smaller than all the other kinds of presolar grains that have been documented before, except for nanodiamonds that have been found here at the University of Chicago," said University of Chicago cosmochemist Nicolas Dauphas in a statement.  Dauphas and eight co-authors will report their finding in the Sept. 10, 2010, issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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