Rare `Curious Marie` from early solar system discovered

, 10:14 AM IST
An artist's concept is shown in this NASA handout released August 29, 2012 illustrating Kepler-47, the first transiting circumbinary system -- multiple planets orbiting two suns ? 4,900 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus. The system was detected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, which measures minisucule changes in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that pass in front of or 'transit' their host star. In a dazzling and previously undetected display of orbital dynamics, two planets beyond the solar system have been found circling a pair of stars, scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope said on Wednesday. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR37907

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, François 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)