Friday, May 24 2024 14:50 AEST

Unlocking Supernova Stardust Secrets

Curtin University-led research has discovered a rare dust particle trapped in an ancient extra-terrestrial meteorite that was formed by a star other than our sun

The discovery was made using a technique called atom probe tomography which revealed the particle had a ratio of magnesium isotopes distinct from anything in our solar system.

The discovery was made by lead author Dr Nicole Nevill and colleagues during her PhD studies at Curtin, now working at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute in collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.

Clues that these particles, known as presolar grains, are relics from other stars are found by analysing the different types of elements inside them. Using atom probe tomography Dr Nevill analysed the particle and reconstructed the chemistry on an atomic scale, accessing the hidden information within.

Dr Nevill said that the results were literally off the charts. The most extreme magnesium isotopic ratio from previous studies of presolar grains was about 1,200. The grain in their study has a value of 3,025, the highest ever discovered.

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