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Nature29 April 2004

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Presolar silicates: Now you see them

Presolar grains are tiny dust particles from the molecular cloud that condensed to form the Solar System, preserved inside pieces of asteroids that fall to Earth as 'primitive' meteorites. Since they were discovered in 1987, presolar grains have been found to contain various carbon derivatives and oxides, but no presolar silicates. This might seem odd as silicates were abundant in the presolar molecular cloud, but the problem is that traditional methods for isolating presolar grains dissolve silicates. Now using ion microscopy, presolar silicates have been identified in two primitive meteorites. Silicates are present at 3–30 parts per million, a higher level than other presolar grains apart from diamond, and consistent with their ubiquity in the early Solar System.

letters to nature
Stardust silicates from primitive meteorites
KAZUHIDE NAGASHIMA, ALEXANDER N. KROT & HISAYOSHI YURIMOTO
Nature 428, 921–924 (2004); doi:10.1038/nature02510
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news and views
Meteoritics: Stars in stones
SARA RUSSELL
Silicate minerals that predate the Solar System have been detected inside primitive stony meteorites. Isotopic analysis suggests that the silicates probably condensed around dying ancient stars.
Nature 428, 903–904 (2004); doi:10.1038/428903a
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  © 2004 Nature Publishing Group