tech2 News StaffMay 02, 2019 10:31:00 IST
Billions of years ago, before our solar system was formed, a star exploded and died in space. A grain of dust from that exploding star found its way on a meteorite. Later, that meteorite landed on Earth and it remained there for many years, frozen in Antarctica.
That is until Pierre Haenecour, Associate professor at the University of Arizona and a group of researchers found it and analysed it. The grain is being called LAP-149 and measures 1/25,000th of an inch.
This grain will tell us more about the solar system and how it was formed, according to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. It contains "unique constraints on dust formation and thermodynamic conditions in stellar outflows."
There are very few presolar grains that have been part of a Novae that survive the huge explosion and heat of a dying star. The chance of finding one on Earth is even rarer.
The possibilities and the information that one can gain from this particle is immeasurable.
A research team lead by Haenecour, using the facilities at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory analysed this grain to the atomic level and found that it is rich in a carbon isotope called 13C.
Unfortunately, LAP-149 does not contain enough atoms to determine its exact age, they hope to find a similar, larger specimen in the future.
"If we could date these objects someday, we could get a better idea of what our galaxy looked like in our region and what triggered the formation of the solar system," said Tom Zega, Associate professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Perhaps we owe our existence to a nearby supernova explosion, compressing clouds of gas and dust with its shockwave, igniting stars and creating stellar nurseries, similar to what we see in Hubble's famous 'Pillars of Creation' picture."
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