Sep. The next day, Eric Duo-Hanson found a black, burnt stone on the lawn of his front yard in the Weiss district of Flensburg.
The small meteorite fragment weighing only 24.5 grams holds a big secret: it contains the oldest traces of liquid water on Earth to date. This is the result of Audi Bischoff of the University of Munster, Mario Trilof of the University of Heidelberg and 39 colleagues in the journal Geogymica et Cosmokimica Acta.
Small The mineral grains in the meteorite testify to thisThree million years after the formation of the first solid celestial bodies in our solar system, liquid water was formed. 4.565 billion years ago, giant gas planets such as Jupiter still formed only in the young solar system, while rocky planets such as Earth, Mars and Venus followed millions of years later.
The space around the young sun was still full of gas and dust, which gradually gradually accumulated into larger structures. “One These young heavenly bodies According to our model calculations, it is about a hundred kilometers in diameter, a small piece of which landed on Earth as a meteorite in Flensburg in 2019, ”says physicist and geochemist Trilof about the appearance of the front garden.
The sun was not alone then. Hundreds and thousands of other stars formed in their cosmic surroundings, “giant stars burn their fuel much faster and age much faster than our sun,” says Trilof.
Isotope remnants indicate the age of the meteorite
Shortly before their conclusion, these star giants formed radioactive isotopes, such as the manganese-53 and aluminum-26, and threw them into our solar system, where they were stored in the rock of the gradually forming planets, the “earthly” manganese-55 isotope.
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With a half-life of 3.7 million years, manganese-53 decomposes, leaving nothing on this isotope for long. In contrast, the resulting chromium-53 is stable and more complete. Based on the ratio of isotopes, the Trilloff team was able to determine the age of the Flensburg meteorite: just 4.565 billion years. “This means that the Flensburg meteorite contains some of the oldest carbonate rocks ever found in such celestial bodies,” says Trilof.
But the researchers found many more: “When the Heidelberg ion study determined very accurately the composition of the oxygen and carbon isotopes in the small carbonate particles of the Flensberg meteorite, we saw clear indications that the carbonates were accelerated from the hot water. Trilof says.
Lets make decisions about meteor water
The energy for heating this water came from aluminum-26 Giant stars dying near the young solar system. This isotope decomposes with a half-life of 720,000 years. It releases energy that is rarely dissipated by rock, so it accumulates heat inside.
“This process provides according to our calculations Enough energy to heat water to a temperature of 100 to 200 degrees CelsiusWhere carbonates are formed, ”Trilof explains. Thus researchers have discovered the earliest sources of liquid water in the solar system. Apparently it “rained” on Earth with meteorites for billions of years – one of the prerequisites for life.