Crystalline Silica In Primitive Meteorite Helps Scientists Learn More About Star Formation

Crystalline Silica In Primitive Meteorite Helps Scientists Learn More About Star Formation

Scientists from several scientific institutions analyzed a primitive meteorite, the Yamato-793261 (Y-793261), from the early stages of our solar system and found crystalline silica (silica mineral quartz), which provided robust evidence of silica condensation inside the protoplanetary disk. This discovery helps researchers learn more about star formation.

Until now, previous researches concluded that silica is indeed present in the baby or young T Tauri stars and old asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars. However, the new study brings the first proof of gas-solid condensation of silica in an ancient meteorite from the early phases of our solar system evolution.

“The degree of crystallinity of organic matter in Y-793261 shows that it did not undergo thermal metamorphism. This confirms that Y-793261 preserves minerals and textures of its nebular origin, providing us with records of the early solar system,” stated Timothy Jay Fagan from the Waseda University.

The Yamato-793261 (Y-793261) primitive meteorite is a carbonaceous chondrite retrieved from an ice field near the Yamato Mountains during an expedition in 1979.

Scientists can now learn more about star formation as they found crystalline silica in a primitive meteorite

Refractory inclusions are a crucial property of chondrites, as such structures form at very high temperatures and are the most ancient solids found in the solar system. Refractory inclusions are split into calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) and amoeboid olivine aggregates (AOAs). Yamato-793261 (Y-793261) primitive meteorite contains common AOA minerals, zirconium- and scandium-bearing minerals which are ultra-refractory and form at ultra-high temperatures, as well as quartz such as crystalline silica which forms at lower temperatures.

“Such variety in minerals implies that the AOA condensed from nebular gas to solid over a wide temperature range from approximately 1500–900 degrees Celsius. This aggregate is the first of its kind to be found in our solar system,” explained Professor Fagan who hopes he and his team can learn more about star formation processes.

Yamato-793261 (Y-793261) originates from the same region where asteroid Ryugu lies. At this moment, JAXA’s space probe Hayabusa 2 is examining Ryugu. According to Fagan, “by combining ongoing research on meteorites with new results from Ryugu, we hope to understand better the thermal events and transfers of mass that occurred during the beginning stages of our solar system.”


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