Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Ancient Meteorites Shed Light on Early Solar System

Ancient Meteorites Shed Light on Early Solar System

The origin of organic matter found in meteorites that formed during the birth of the Solar System 4.5 billion years ago may provide key clues to understanding the birth of life here on Earth. As this cloud disintegrated it established a spinning disk with the Sun in the center. Astronomers tried to understand how our Earth began to support life and could there be life in other solar systems, - informs the newspaper The Independent. Covered in crystals and nearly as big as a basketball, the meteorite is the oldest igneous meteorite ever discovered according to a recently published study.

"The age of this meteorite is the oldest, igneous meteorite ever recorded", said Professor and Director of the Institute of Meteoritics Carl Agee. And it's incredibly important and unusual way to look at the beginning of the Solar system that surrounds us, because the Earth has a tendency to destroy such records. Some of them seem to be like the crust of the Earth as they are very light colored and entail SiO2. "These not only exist, but it occurred during one of the very first volcanic events to take place in the Solar System". Agee was not sure if the rock was a meteorite so he approached Poorna Shrinivasan to inspect the object.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers used an electron microprobe and a CT scan to identify the chemical composition and mineralogy of the meteorite.

Space meteorite NWA 11119 was discovered in Mauritania in 2016. That amount of tridymite is comparable to what's found in volcanic rocks on Earth, but it's unheard of in meteorites, Srinivasan said in a University of New Mexico statement. "I examined the mineralogy to understand all of the phases that comprise the meteorite".

Large silica crystals, called tridymite, account for about 30 percent of NWA 11119. "This rock...stands out as something completely different from any of the over 40,000 meteorites that have been found on Earth", Srinivasan said.

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"Based on oxygen isotopes, we know it's from an extraterrestrial source somewhere in the solar system, but we can't actually pinpoint it to a known body that has been viewed with a telescope", said Srinivasan.

Additional chemical analyses revealed that the meteorite closely resembled two other unusual meteorites - NWA 7235 and Almahata Sitta - suggesting that all three space rocks may have come from the same parent body, Srinivasan said.

Researchers have identified a odd meteorite, different from all the meteorites previously studied.

Although researchers have found space rocks that date back further before, NWA 11119 is unique because it's the oldest igneous meteorite ever discovered.

While previous studies focused on two other building block of life-hydrogen and nitrogen-this marks the first "high-precision triple oxygen isotope analysis" of carbonaceous chondrite organics.

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