Synopsis top ↑
More than 4.5Ga ago our solar system was formed from a mixture of gas and dust. In the shells of dying stars and during supernova explosions dust grains are formed and processed, contributing to the molecular cloud from which our solar system evolved.
The authors describe how they, by applying modern analytical techniques with nanoscale to atomic resolution, are now able to identify and characterize these building blocks and to decipher in great detail the processing of this material from which habitable planets, such as Earth, are formed. With a spatial resolution of less than 50nm it is possible to measure the main, minor and trace elemental composition, the isotopic ratios, valence states and structural details, like long and short range order, defects and indicator micro structures of phase transformations.
Their study of pristine asteroidal, cometary and contemporary interstellar matter yield new exciting insights into the formation of the solar system. We discovered an unexpected high amount of phases in cometary dust from Comet Wild 2 sampled during NASA´s Stardust mission that is formed at high temperature (>1000°C) in the inner part of the protoplanetary nebula close to the proto-sun, and we identified presolar Mg-Si-perovskite in the matrix of the pristine meteorite Acfer094 most likely formed during a supernova shock wave or low temperature condensation still before our solar system was formed.