The scientific journal ScienceAlert has just published an article in which it explains how our solar system was at some point in its history a particularly chaotic place. At that time, rocks, blocks of stone and planetesimals, a small fraction of a planet, regularly entered into collision and caused cascading explosions. Asteroids are then residues of these important disintegrations of matter.
remained basically unchangedasteroids are considered by astronomers to be rocky time capsules capable of delivering clues about star formation. In effect, their hearts have long been preserved within protective coats and can provide tremendous insight into the birth of the Solar System.
This is why researchers have decided to analyze pieces of asteroid cores who crashed to Earth. They were thus able to date the chaos that reigned in the solar system at the beginning of its formation.
Iron meteorites are hearts of asteroids that have fallen to Earth
Scientists have noticed that all asteroids did not remain intact. Indeed, the repeated collisions during their cosmic journey got the better of their insulating coats. Some asteroids then have lost part of their nucleus of iron that scattered in space. Some pieces of these iron asteroid cores are then fallen to earth in the form of meteorites.
History often relates the use of these iron meteorites by humans. To cite only the King Tutankhamun’s dagger, a famous pharaoh, who was made from an iron meteorite. Also, the Inuit of Greenland have used tools fashioned from iron meteorites for hundreds of years.
Radioactive molecules helped date the birth of our solar system
Recently, researchers have been interested in these iron meteorites, because they contain a lot of information. In particular, they found isotopes of palladium, platinum and silver. Quantitative analysis of these isotopes allowed scientists to date precisely certain milestones in the formation of the Solar System, including the cosmic chaos.
Indeed, scientists already know the time required for disintegration of a given radioactive element. It was then enough for them to determine what step in the decay chain are the radioactive molecules found in the heart of an asteroid to estimate its age and therefore the time of its formation.