Ryugu samples continue to shed light on solar system history

(ORDO NEWS) — Samples from the asteroid Ryugu brought to Earth two years ago by the Hayabusa 2 mission continue to reveal valuable information about the history of the early solar system.

A study by scientists from the University of Paris-Cite and CNRS reveals the zinc and copper isotopic composition of the Ryugu asteroid.

Isotopic signatures show that the composition of Ryugu is close to that of carbonaceous chondrites, and that Ryugu-like material from the outer solar system makes up ~5-6% of the Earth’s mass.

The first analyzes by an international team have shown that the composition of asteroid Ryugu is close to that of carbonaceous chondrites similar to Iwuna (CI), the most chemically primitive meteorites with a composition closest to that of the sun.

However, some isotopic features (such as titanium and chromium) are overlapped by other groups of carbonaceous chondrites, so the details of the relationship between Ryugu and CI are not yet fully understood.

Zinc and copper are two moderately volatile elements. They are key elements for studying the processes of accretion of volatiles during the formation of telluric planets.

Different groups of carbonaceous chondrites have different isotopic compositions of zinc and copper, with CI chondrites being more enriched in volatiles.

By conducting additional analyzes of the isotopic composition of Ryugu’s zinc and copper, scientists gained access to a crucial tool for studying the origin of the asteroid.

An international team showed in a study that the isotope ratios of copper and zinc in the Ryugu samples were identical to CI chondrites, and different from all other types of meteorites.

Conclusively confirming the similarity between Ryugu and CI chondrites, this study establishes that these primitive samples from Ryugu represent the best estimate of the solar composition of copper and zinc to date.

Finally, the Ryugu zinc isotopic composition can also be used to study the accretion history of moderately volatile elements on Earth.

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