Cosmochemistry

Searching for presolar clues

The planets in our solar system are made up of elements produced in earlier generation of stars.

Variation in the isotopic abundance of some of these elements suggest that the presolar dust inherited from the protosolar molecular cloud was not completely homogenized by either physical mixing or processing at high temperatures to erase the nucleosynthetic signatures of the diverse stars that contributed matter to the solar system.

To understand the origin of this nucleosynthetic diversity, we study primitive meteorites and their components as well as meteorite originating from differentiated asteroids.

In the Center’s state-of-the-art isotope laboratories, we precisely determine the isotopic composition of various elements, including radioactive species and their daughter products.

We study primitive and differentiated meteorites.

This information allows us to better understand the nature of the different stars that contributed matter to the nascent solar system, as well as to provide a high-resolution chronology of early solar system events.