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: Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Interesting facts about planet Mars

Feb 16, 2015

Mars is a constant point of discussion for space explorers around the world. We've sent dozens of spacecraft there to study it. Some want to land astronauts on it. The planet is just far away to make that ...

Ten interesting facts about asteroids

Feb 03, 2015

At first glance, looking at a bunch of space rocks doesn't sound that exciting. Like, aren't they just a bunch of rubble? What use can they be in understanding the Solar System compared to looking at planets ...

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, ...

Recommended for you

Could the Milky Way become a quasar?

22 hours ago

A quasar is what you get when a supermassive black hole is actively feeding on material at the core of a galaxy. The region around the black hole gets really hot and blasts out radiation that we can see billions ...

Galactic dinosaurs not extinct

22 hours ago

One of the biggest mysteries in galaxy evolution is the fate of the compact massive galaxies that roamed the early Universe.

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.