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This meteorite is special because it fell onto a frozen lake and was recovered quickly. It was very pristine. We could see the minerals weren't much altered and later found that it contained a rich inventory of extraterrestrial organic compounds, these kinds of organic compounds were likely delivered to the early Earth by meteorites and might have contributed to the ingredients of life.
But we also keep looking out for new meteorite falls, every meteorite that falls to Earth is worth studying, as it may provide a unique perspective onto the solar system and may shed new light on its history and our origins.
Much more work needs to be done to better understand the individual chemical pathways of the different compounds and the different processes that the organic matter went through.
Some people think that the star formation rate of the galaxy is constant, but thanks to these grains, we now have direct evidence for a period of enhanced star formation in our galaxy seven billion years ago with samples from meteorites. This is one of the key findings of our study.
With this study, we have directly determined the lifetimes of stardust. We hope this will be picked up and studied so that people can use this as input for models of the whole galactic life cycle, it's so exciting to look at the history of our galaxy. Stardust is the oldest material to reach Earth, and from it, we can learn about our parent stars, the origin of the carbon in our bodies [ and ] the origin of the oxygen we breathe. With stardust, we can trace that material back to the time before the sun.
This is one of the most exciting studies I've worked on, these are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy. They're solid samples of stars.
Some of these cosmic rays interact with the matter and form new elements, and the longer they get exposed, the more those elements form. I compare this with putting out a bucket in a rainstorm. Assuming the rainfall is constant, the amount of water that accumulates in the bucket tells you how long it was exposed.
We have more young grains than we expected, our hypothesis is that the majority of those grains, which are 4.9 to 4.6 billion years old, formed in an episode of enhanced star formation. There was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal.
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