Meteorites give planetary formation clues

Sep 19, 2005

London researchers trying to understand how the planets formed have uncovered a new clue by analyzing meteorites that are older than the Earth.

The Imperial College London scientists say research shows the process that depleted planets and meteorites of so-called volatile elements -- zinc, lead and sodium -- must have been one of the first things to happen in our nebula.

The implication of that "volatile depletion" may be an inevitable part of planet formation -- a feature not just of the solar system, but also of many other planetary systems.

The scientists reached their conclusions after analyzing the composition of primitive meteorites -- coal-like rocks that are older than the Earth and that have barely changed since the solar system was formed.

Their analysis, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows all the rocks' components are depleted of volatile elements. That means volatile element depletion must have occurred before the earliest solids had formed.

Lead researcher Phil Bland said, "Our results answer one of a huge number of questions we have about the processes that converted a nebula of fine dust and gas into planets."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: NASA's Curiosity Mars rover studies rock-layer contact zone

Related Stories

What is a terrestrial planet?

5 hours ago

In studying our solar system over the course of many centuries, astronomers learned a great deal about the types of planets that exist in our universe. This knowledge has since expanded thanks to the discovery ...

Comet Wild 2: A window into the birth of the solar system?

May 14, 2015

Our solar system, and other planetary systems, started as a disk of microscopic dust, gas, and ice around the young Sun. The amazing diversity of objects in the solar system today - the planets, moons, asteroids, ...

Solar system ice: Source of Earth's water

Jul 12, 2012

Scientists have long believed that comets and, or a type of very primitive meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites were the sources of early Earth's volatile elements—which include hydrogen, nitrogen, ...

New clues from the dawn of the solar system

Mar 16, 2015

A research group in the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory has found evidence in meteorites that hint at the discovery of a previously unknown region within the swirling disk of dust and gas known as the protoplanetary ...

Recommended for you

Working out in artificial gravity

7 hours ago

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have a number of exercise options, including a mechanical bicycle bolted to the floor, a weightlifting machine strapped to the wall, and a strap-down treadmill. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.