Washington: A team of scientists has discovered evidence in a meteorite that a rare element, curium, was present during the formation of the solar system.
This University of Chicago finding ends a 35-year-old debate on the possible presence of curium in the early solar system and plays a crucial role in reassessing models of stellar evolution and synthesis of elements in stars.
“Curium is an elusive element. It is one of the heaviest-known elements, yet it does not occur naturally because all of its isotopes are radioactive and decay rapidly on a geological time scale,” said lead author, FranÃ§ois Tissot.
And yet Tissot and his co-authors, Nicolas Dauphas and Lawrence Grossman, have found evidence of curium in an unusual ceramic inclusion they called “Curious Marie,” taken from a carbonaceous meteorite.
Curium became incorporated into the inclusion when it condensed from the gaseous cloud, which formed the sun, early in the history of the solar system.
Curious Marie and curium are both named after Marie Curie, whose pioneering work laid the foundation of the theory of radioactivity. Curium was only discovered in 1944, by Glenn Seaborg and his collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley, who, by bombarding atoms of plutonium with alpha particles (atoms of helium) synthesized a new, very radioactive element.
The research appears in Science Advances. (ANI)