Scientists are saying that two grains of sand were found in a pair of meteorites that landed on Earth billions of years ago from an explosion in space.
The new discovery suggests the grains were formed in a single supernova explosion that occurred in space over 5 billion years ago. These grains may even come from the same star explosion that sparked the formation of our own solar system.
Both meteorites were found in Antarctica – and appear to date back to before the solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago. Each contains a single grain of silica (SiO2, which is the main ingredient of sand).
The new study is also saying the chemical signature of these grains are identical and extremely rare. Scientists say the finding is so rare that they suspect both grains came from a single supernova. This type of supernova occurs when a massive star burns out,running out of fuel for nuclear fusion and collapses in on itself in a giant explosion.
These are the first such grains found in primitive meteorites – and are distinct because of the type of oxygen contained in the silica. Previous research has uncovered a handful of space rocks containing silica grains enriched in oxygen-17, which is thought to be created by living stars. But a slightly heavier version of oxygen, called oxygen-18, was found in these two new grains. Oxygen-18 must be formed in a supernova.
All I know is I really don’t want to be around if our sun has a supernova. I would guess that won’t be a fun time.
For more on the story, check out [Gizmodo]