New Method Developed to Determine Origin of Stardust in Meteorites

GRETINA in ATLAS at Argonne

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Photograph of GRETINA in ATLAS at Argonne. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

International group establishes a brand-new technique to identify the origin of stardust in meteorites.

Analysis of meteorite material has actually been vital beforehand our understanding of the origin and advancement of our planetary system. Some meteorites likewise include grains of stardust. These grains precede the development of our planetary system and are now offering essential insights into how the components in deep space formed.

Working in cooperation with a worldwide group, nuclear physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory have actually made a crucial discovery associated to the analysis of “presolar grains” discovered in some meteorites. This discovery has actually clarified the nature of outstanding surges and the origin of chemical components. It has actually likewise offered a brand-new technique for huge research study.

“Tiny presolar grains, about one micron in size, are the residue from stellar explosions in the distant past, long before our solar system existed,” stated Dariusz Seweryniak, speculative nuclear physicist in Argonne’s Physics department. The outstanding particles from the surges ultimately ended up being wedged into meteorites that crashed into the Earth.

“In turn, we were able to calculate the ratios of various sulfur isotopes produced in stellar explosions, which will allow astrophysicists to determine whether a particular presolar grain is of nova or supernova origin.” — Dariusz Seweryniak, speculative physicist in the Physics department

The significant outstanding surges are of 2 types. One called a “nova” includes a binary star system, where a primary star is orbiting a white dwarf star, a very thick star that can be the size of Earth however have the mass of our sun. Matter from the primary star is continuously being retreated by the white dwarf due to the fact that of its extreme gravitational field. This transferred product starts an atomic surge every 1,000 to 100,000 years, and the white dwarf ejects the equivalent of the mass of more than thirty Earths into interstellar area. In a “supernova,” a single collapsing star blows up and ejects the majority of its mass.

Nova and supernova are the sources of the most regular and violent outstanding eruptions in our Galaxy, and because of that, they have actually been the topic of extreme huge examinations for years. Much has actually been gained from them, for instance, about the origin of the much heavier components.

“A new way of studying these phenomena is analyzing the chemical and isotopic composition of the presolar grains in meteorites,” discussed Seweryniak. “Of particular importance to our research is a specific nuclear reaction that occurs in nova and supernova — proton capture on an isotope of chlorine — which we can only indirectly study in the lab.”

In performing their research study, the group originated a brand-new method for astrophysics research study. It involves usage of the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking In-beam Array (GRETINA) combined to the Fragment Mass Analyzer at the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics. GRETINA is an advanced detection system able to trace the course of gamma rays released from nuclear responses. It is among just 2 such systems on the planet.

Using GRETINA, the group finished the very first in-depth gamma-ray spectroscopy research study of an astronomically essential nucleus of an isotope, argon-34. From the information, they determined the nuclear response rate including proton capture on a chlorine isotope (chlorine-33).

“In turn, we were able to calculate the ratios of various sulfur isotopes produced in stellar explosions, which will allow astrophysicists to determine whether a particular presolar grain is of nova or supernova origin,” stated Seweryniak. The group likewise used their gotten information to get much deeper understanding of the synthesis of components in outstanding surges.

The group is preparing to continue their research study with GRETINA as part of an around the world effort to reach a detailed understanding of nucleosynthesis of the components in outstanding surges.

Reference: “Search of Nova Presolar Grains: γ-ray Spectroscopy of 34Ar and Its Relevance for the Astrophysical 33Cl(p, γ) response” by A. R. L. Kennington, G. Lotay, D. T. Doherty, D. Seweryniak, C. Andreoiu, K. Auranen, M. P. Carpenter, W. N. Catford, C. M. Deibel, K. Hadyńska-Klęk, S. Hallam, D. E. M. Hoff, T. Huang, R. V. F. Janssens, S. Jazrawi, J. José, F. G. Kondev, T. Lauritsen, J. Li, A. M. Rogers, J. Saiz, G. Savard, S. Stolze, G. L. Wilson and S. Zhu, 26 June 2020, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.252702

In addition to Seweryniak, authors consist of A.R.L. Kennington, G. Lotay, D.T. Doherty, C. Andreoiu, K. Auranen, M.P. Carpenter, W.N. Catford, C.M. Deibel, K. Hadynska-Klek, S. Hallam, D. Hoff, T. Huang, R.V.F. Janssens, S. Jazrawi, J. José, F.G. Kondev, T. Lauritsen, J. Li, A.M. Rogers, J. Saiz, G. Savard, S. Stolze, G.L. Wilson, and S. Zhu. Participating research study organizations consist of the University of Surrey (UK), University of York (UK), Simon Fraser University (Canada), Louisiana State University (United States), University of North Carolina (United States), Duke University (United States), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), and Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (Spain).

This research study was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

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