The solar nebula sustained a strong magnetic field that may have aided planetesimal accretion and imparted the chemical remanent magnetization (CRM) observed in some carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. The CRM thus provides a record of the magnetic field of the early Solar System at the time when carbonaceous chondrite parent bodies experienced aqueous alteration. However, the link between CRM recorded in carbonaceous chondrites and the geophysical evolution of carbonaceous chondrite parent bodies has not been thoroughly investigated. Using planetesimal thermal evolution models, we show that CRM in carbonaceous chondrites would be a natural consequence of water-rich planetesimals forming within the solar nebular magnetic field. We find that large carbonaceous chondrite parent bodies (>50 km radius), which never hosted endogenous dynamo-driven magnetic fields due to their lack of metallic cores, could have strong, present-day remanent magnetism from the ancient nebular magnetic field. In situ magnetometer measurements of large C-type asteroids could therefore validate models of carbonaceous chondrite magnetization by the solar nebular magnetic field. We suggest that 2 Pallas may be a good target for such a study.
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No custom code or algorithm was developed as part of this work, apart from simple routines written in the MATLAB language that were used to plot simulation data or analytical functions described in the Methods. These routines are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. The simulation data were produced using code from a previously published study48.
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We thank A. Rubin for fruitful discussions about the alteration of CM chondrites. B.P.W., R.O. and L.T.E.-T. thank the NASA Discovery Program (grant number NNM16AA09C) for support. Part of this work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Maximum magnetized volume percent for planetesimals with 40 vol% water ice that formed in the inner solar system where the solar nebula dissipated at 3.9 Myr after CAIs and assuming an unblocking temperature of (a) 550 K and (b) 850 K, which correspond to the magnetic carriers pyrrhotite and magnetite respectively. Quicker nebula dissipation leads to fewer planetesimals that could be magnetized. Compared to the nominal case in Fig. 2, the range of time that can lead to complete magnetization has been greatly reduced if magnetite is the carrier and eliminated if pyrrhotite is the carrier.
Maximum magnetized volume percent for planetesimals with 10 vol% water ice that formed in the outer solar system where the solar nebula dissipated at 4.8 Myr after CAIs and assuming an unblocking temperature of (a) 550 K and (b) 850 K, which corresponds to the magnetic carrier being pyrrhotite and magnetite respectively. Because there is less water ice, there is more radiogenic heating. More radiogenic heating means it is easier to reach the unblocking temperature(s) and erase magnetization. Compared to the nominal case in Fig. 2, the range in time that allows for complete magnetization assuming magnetite is the magnetic carrier has been narrowed. No times allow complete magnetization assuming pyrrhotite is the carrier.
Extended Data Fig. 3 Mean magnetization scale as a function of the exhalation alteration parameters, assuming a magnetite-like magnetic carrier.
The mean magnetization scale is the average of the magnetization scale values for every planetesimal model run within a given bin of parameter values. We generated this plot from 50,000 random samples of the parameter space. The mean magnetization scale for the entire set of models is 30 km.
Table of values that produced Fig. 1's plotted contours.
Table of values that produced Fig. 2's plotted contours.
Table of values that produced Fig. 3's plotted contours.
List of values that produced Fig. 5's curves.
Table of values that produced ED Fig. 1's contours.
Table of values that produced ED Fig. 2's contours.
Unprocessed set of 50,000 magnetization scale model results.
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Courville, S.W., O’Rourke, J.G., Castillo-Rogez, J.C. et al. Acquisition and Preservation of Remanent Magnetization in Carbonaceous Asteroids. Nat Astron (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-022-01802-z