Trace elements found in meteorites to shed light on the inner workings of supernova explosions, which cause the release of the stellar material in the space is recycled into new planets and stars.
(National Astonomical Observatory of Japan)
Meteorites may hold new clues about the supernova explosions of the stars and planets of our solar system are formed.
When a heavy star at the end of his life, it implodes. These releases of stellar material into space, creating a fiery explosion known as a supernova. In turn, that material is recycled into new stars and planets.
While supernovae are important events in the evolution of stars and galaxies, the inner workings of these stellar explosions remain a mystery. [Supernova Photos: Great Images of Star Explosions]
Meteorites, the rocky debris from comets or asteroids that fall to Earth are formed from material left over from the birth of the solar system. Therefore, these small pieces of space rock with preservation of the original chemical signatures of the stellar material released during the supernova.
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With the help of meteorites, researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan examined its role in the supernova process of particles called electron antineutrinos, which are released during the explosion, according to a statement.
Neutrinos are subatomic particles that have no electric charge and a mass so small it is never observed. The antineutrino, antimatter particle, the counterpart of the neutrino. An electron antineutrino is a specific form of antineutrino.
“There are six types of neutrino. Previous studies have shown that the neutrino isotopes are mainly produced by the five neutrino species other than the electron antineutrino,” Takehito Hayakawa, lead author of the study and a visiting professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, said in the statement. “By finding a neutrino, isotope synthesized mainly by the electron antineutrino, we can estimate the temperatures of all six neutrino species, that are important for understanding the supernova explosion mechanism.”
To learn more about what happens during the supernova, the researchers measured the amount of Ru-98, an isotope of the element ruthenium, which is in meteorites. This, in turn, helped the researchers to estimate how much of Ru-98 of the ancestor, Tc-98 — a short-lived isotope of the element technetium was present in the material from which the early solar system formed, according to the statement.
Neutrinos from the dying star interaction with other particles in space to form technetium. The amount of Tc-98 is largely influenced by the temperature of the electron antineutrinos released in the supernova process, as well as the amount of time between the stellar explosion and the formation of the solar system, according to the statement.
Therefore, the study of the Tc-98-concentration in meteorites casts light on the neutrino-induced reactions that occur during the supernova explosions, the study said.
Published Sept. 4 in the journal Physical Review Letters, the study shows that the expected abundance of Tc-98 by the time the solar system formed is not much lower than the current detectable levels, which suggests that the researchers will soon be able to precisely measure the substance and a better estimate of the time between the last supernova and the formation of the solar system.
Original article on Space.com.