University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Spotlight

Stardust remembers the early solar system

Prof. Bob Pepin
Professor Bob Pepin with a film containing cometary matter from the Stardust probe.
Patrick O'Leary
                                                       

School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Bob Pepin and colleagues has published a report in the current issue of Science Magazine that will help shed light on the early solar system. Pepin and his co-authors studied small amounts of of cometary matter from the Comet 81P/Wild-2, which was intercepted by the space probe Stardust in January 2004.

Pepin and co-authors measured the noble gases in Stardust material because noble gases are unable to combine with other elements and therefore were unchanged since the time of the comet's formation. They found very high concentrations of helium and neon, and theorized that were implanted by ion irradiation a by-product of massive magnetic flares that would have been present around a young evolving sun.

More information at http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Stories/A_speck_of_Stardust2C_a_window_on_the_young_solar_.html