Rapid Timescales for Magma Ocean Crystallization on the Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite Parent Body

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Baker, J.
Millet, M.A.
Irving, A.
(2011)
Astrophysical Journal Letters, 740, L22

Asteroid 4 Vesta has long been postulated as the source for the howardite-eucrite-diogenite (HED) achondrite meteorites. Here we show that Al-free diogenite meteorites record variability in the mass-independent abundance of 26Mg (26Mg*) that is correlated with their mineral chemistry. This suggests that these meteorites captured the Mg-isotopic evolution of a large-scale differentiating magma body with increasing 27Al/24Mg during the lifespan of the short-lived 26Al nuclide (t1/2 ~ 730,000 yr). Thus, diogenites and eucrites represent crystallization products of a large-scale magma ocean associated with the differentiation and magmatic evolution of the HED parent body. The 26Mg* composition of the most primitive diogenites requires onset of the magma ocean crystallization within 0.6–0.4+0.5 Myr of solar system formation. Moreover, 26Mg* variations among diogenites and eucrites imply that near complete solidification of the HED parent body occurred within the following 2-3 Myr. Thermal models predict that such rapid cooling and magma ocean crystallization could only occur on small asteroids (<100 km), implying that 4 Vesta is not the source of the HED meteorites.