Mineral samples may have just revealed the mysterious birthplace of asteroid Ryugu

(ORDO NEWS) — Mineral samples collected from asteroid Ryugu continue to be a treasure trove of interesting information for scientists, and a new analysis reveals the object’s birthplace.

It turned out that Ryugu originated in the outer reaches of the asteroid. The solar system where comets usually form.

A large team of researchers, led by a team from Hokkaido University in Japan, has closely examined the minerals that make up Ryugu, using tools such as scanning electron microscopes and secondary ion microscopes. mass spectrometer.

In particular, the levels of oxygen isotopes 16 were investigated.

Mineral samples may have just revealed the mysterious birthplace of asteroid Ryugu
Minerals found in Ryugu samples

“The oxygen isotope composition of primary minerals could potentially provide important constraints on their origin,” said a planetary scientist at Hokkaido University. Noriyuki Kawasaki and colleagues write in their published article.

Comets form farther from the Sun than asteroids, and due to the cooler temperatures in these remote regions, they contain significant amounts of ice as part of their composition. By comparison, asteroids are almost entirely composed of rocks.

The presence of carbonate minerals in Ryugu’s dust samples, along with amino acids, suggests that the asteroid formed under conditions of low temperature and water, that is, somewhere far away. where ice does not evaporate well, perhaps in the regions around Uranus and Neptune.

That’s not all: the team was also able to identify minerals such as spinel, olivine and perovskite, which form at higher temperatures (above 1,000 degrees Celsius or 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit).

The hypothesis is that some material from the inner solar system traveled outward from the Sun, eventually colliding with Ryugu and becoming part of it.

The copper and zinc isotopes of Ryugu are close to those of the carbonaceous Ywuna meteorite, which was discovered many years ago in Tanzania, the researchers report.

There are also similarities to comet 81p/Wild 2, meaning that it likely formed in the same way, in a mixture of material from the inner and outer solar system.

All this detective work is helping scientists map Ryugu’s geological history and its place in the universe. This asteroid is probably billions of years old and carries with it clues about the earliest years of the solar system.

Until now, meteorites such as Ivuna, known as carbonaceous chondrites, have been used by meteorites. scientists to make educated guesses about asteroids and comets that have hit Earth throughout its history. However, we now have samples taken from the vacuum of space to study.

Scientists have already established that Ryugu contains particles of other stars that exploded before the formation of the Sun. The asteroid is likely to tell us much more in the future, as research on the material collected from it continues.

“We conclude that the area of ​​accretion of Ryugu [and Iwuna] type parent bodies is different. from those for other groups of carbonaceous chondrites, including Lake Tagish, and may be closer to the accretion region of comet 81P/Wild2,” the researchers conclude.

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