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Stardust analysis reveals secrets beyond Sol
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Stardust analysis reveals secrets beyond Sol
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 28, 2024

A team led by Curtin University researchers has made a groundbreaking discovery, identifying a rare dust particle within an ancient meteorite that originates from a star beyond our Solar System. This significant finding was achieved under the guidance of lead researcher Dr. Nicole Nevill during her PhD tenure at Curtin, in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute and NASA's Johnson Space Centre.

Meteorites, primarily composed of solar system material, occasionally house presolar grains-particles from stars that predate our sun. The origins of these grains are deduced by examining their elemental composition. Dr. Nevill utilized atom probe tomography, a sophisticated analytical technique, to dissect the particle's chemistry at the atomic level, revealing previously inaccessible information.

"These grains serve as cosmic time capsules, offering glimpses into their progenitor stars' lives," stated Dr. Nevill. Unlike materials formed within our solar system, which exhibit predictable isotopic ratios, the examined particle presented a magnesium isotopic ratio unparalleled in our solar system's confines.

"Our findings were astonishing. Presolar grains studied in the past showed a maximum magnesium isotopic ratio of approximately 1,200. The grain we analyzed boasted a ratio of 3,025-the highest on record, indicative of its formation in a hydrogen-burning supernova, a stellar type only recently identified," explained Dr. Nevill.

Dr. David Saxey, a co-researcher at the John de Laeter Centre, highlighted the study's innovative approach, emphasizing the atom probe's role in achieving unprecedented detail. "This study is pioneering in its exploration of the universe, enhancing our understanding of stellar formation and evolution," he remarked.

Professor Phil Bland, another co-author from Curtin's School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, reflected on the broader implications of such discoveries. "Studying these rare particles in meteorites allows us to connect laboratory-scale measurements to cosmic phenomena, furthering our knowledge of the universe," he said.

This research, shedding light on the intricate processes governing star life cycles and the cosmic landscape, represents a significant leap in both analytical methods and astrophysical theories.

Research Report:Atomic-scale Element and Isotopic Investigation of 25Mg-rich Stardust from an H-burning Supernova

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Curtin University
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

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