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Asteroid Ryugu was born out in the cold, in the solar system's earliest days

Posted: October 25th, 2022, 10:24 am
by fred8615
The near-Earth asteroid Ryugu formed far from the sun, in the cold depths of the outer solar system, according to new analysis of samples returned from Ryugu by the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission.

Hayabusa2 collected two samples of material from Ryugu's surface in 2019, then returned those samples to Earth in 2020. Early analysis indicated that the samples were the most pristine material ever seen in the solar system, incorporating dust older than the sun. Essentially, Ryugu has remained unchanged since it formed during the first 4 or 5 million years of solar-system history. And the latest research on the samples shows that Ryugu hails from near the orbit of Neptune and was kicked inward by the migrating ice giant planets.

The sample analysis, from a team led by Timo Hopp, a planetary scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, detected surprising abundances of particular isotopes, which are atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons.

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