Scientists have identified the materials of the parent body of the asteroid Ryugu

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists, including researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has determined that one of Ryugu’s particles could shed light on the source materials of its parent body.

In December 2014, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft to asteroid 162173 Ryugu. In December 2020, the capsule successfully returned to Earth with the Ryugu soil samples it had collected.

Ryugu is an ancient fragment of a larger asteroid that formed a very long time ago, shortly after the birth of the Sun. Samples from this asteroid provide a unique opportunity to determine not only the material from which the solar system formed, but also how the solar system evolved.

The solar system formed from a large cloud of gas and dust formed by previous generations of stars. This stardust is nanometer to micrometer sized particles that are incorporated into planetary bodies during their formation.

In a new study, space chemist Ming-Chang Liu found that one particle, dubbed C0009, is mineralogically different from other Ryugu particles because it contains small amounts of anhydrous silicates.

Other particles studied to date contained more phyllosilicate and carbonate minerals, suggesting that Ryugu underwent extensive hydroal alteration in its parent body, as rare, mineralogically altered but chemically primitive CI chondrites (a group of rare stony meteorites).

Results from isotopic analyzes of magnesium-rich olivine and pyroxene “provide strong evidence that amoeboid olivine aggregates and magnesium-rich chondrules, two types of high-temperature objects that formed in the solar nebula, coalesced with the Ryugu parent body,” said Liu, who is the study’s lead author.

The team also analyzed results from measurements of oxygen isotopes in anhydrous Ryugu silicates.

“Oxygen isotope data, together with grain morphology, allow us to infer the parent materials included in the Ryugu protolith, as they reveal a potential relationship between anhydrous silicates in C0009 and other known high-temperature components found in non-carbonaceous chondrites,” Liu said.


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