(ORDO NEWS) — Before the planets appeared in our solar system, it was inhabited by planetesimals. Scientists believe that most of the meteorites that hit the Earth are fragments of these planetesimals.
Scientists also believe that planetesimals either dispersed completely early in their history, or remain nothing more than clumps of rocks or debris.
But one of the families of meteorites that have been found around the globe seems to have originated from a planetesimal, which has broken this trend.
New research reveals that one family of meteorites originated from the same parent cosmic body. And this indicates that the space body was simultaneously melted and an accumulation of debris. For scientists, this is a mystery.
A new study presenting these results is titled “Meteorite Evidence for Partial Differentiation and Long-Term Accretion of Planetesimals . ” The lead author is Clara Maurel, a graduate student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (EAPS). The research is published in the journal Science Advances.
Our meteorite classification system assumes that no parent body can be a source of both molten (chondritic) and unmelted (achondritic) meteorites. This follows from our understanding of how planetesimals are formed.
Models show that they form almost instantaneously, which prevents them from melting.
It has long been hypothesized that planetesimals can be differentiated into either molten or unmelted, but evidence is difficult to find.
But in this study, scientists found confirmation. There could be more planetzimals than we expected. According to the team of researchers, the parent body of a rare group of meteorites found on Earth must be differentiated, with molten and non-molten layers.
It also had a liquid metal core. And this core created a powerful magnetic field.
“This is one example of a planetesimal that must have had molten and unmelted layers, ” Maurel says in a press release.
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