Efforts by scientists for a glance into stars’ chemistry
Using a new research approach, scientists are shedding light on the mystery origins of ancient meteorite grains. These granules evolved in ancient stars that died before the genesis of our sun, and are older than the solar system itself. Similar stars can still be found in the universe, and studying these pre-solar grains can reveal a lot about the chemistry of those stars.
Scientists have previously attempted to analyze pre-solar grains in meteorites, but Nan Liu, a research assistant professor of physics at Washington University in Missouri and the principal author of a new study, believes that previous approaches were too incorrect.
The Murchinson meteorites, which rained 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) of cosmic rock down on the Australian town of Murchinson in 1969, were studied by Liu and her team. Scientists who had previously researched these meteorites quickly concluded that this was a fortunate impact, and not just because one of the largest pieces managed to break through the roof of a nearby barn without injuring anyone.
Liu said to the reporters, “Murchinson is a primitive meteorite that originated at the start of the solar system and never melted later.” “Most meteorites from the asteroid belt are melted by collisions and heating, so any pristine material from the early phases of formation is lost.”
Grain of rock older than the solar system is embedded in younger material in the Murchinson meteorite. Because of their chemical composition, scientists know that these grains predate the origin of the solar system based on earlier studies.
What are the grains and what do they do?
“These granules are silicon carbide, which consists of silicon and carbon atoms,” Liu explained. “However, silicon carbide does not naturally form in our solar system because there is so much oxygen, and all these carbon atoms would first link with oxygen to form carbon oxide molecules.”
Carbon stars, which are bright red massive stars with atmospheres that contain more carbon than oxygen, are the most likely source of these granules, according to Liu. Scientists must determine whether the compositions of particular isotopes in meteoric grains match those in carbon stars to confirm this notion. Isotopes are different chemical elements with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. Some isotope compositions are found across the solar system, while others can only be found within specific types of stars.
In a statement, Maurizio Busso, a co-author from the University of Perugia in Italy, said, “The new isotopic data collected in this study are interesting for stellar physicists and nuclear astrophysicists like me.” “The ‘abnormal’ nitrogen isotopic ratios of pre-solar silicon carbide grains have only been discovered in the previous two days.”
The new findings explain the difference between what was originally contained in pre-solar stardust grains and what was later attached, thus resolving a long-standing mystery in the community.”