Secret of solar system may lie within Ryugu Asteroid | Tech News

Secret of solar system may lie within Ryugu Asteroid

While studying the chemical composition of the Ryugu Asteroid, scientists can find out how the solar system was formed. Here’s what the study says.

| Updated on: Jan 21 2023, 11:25 IST
5 asteroids, including a 305 feet giant space rock to buzz Earth soon!
Asteroid Ryugu
1/5 Asteroid 2023 AT - NASA has warned that the asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 AT will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 20, at a distance of 4,4 million kilometers. It is nearly as big as a bus with a width of 42 feet. It is already hurtling towards the planet at a speed of 26039 kilometers per hour.  (Wikimedia Commons)
Asteroid Ryugu
2/5 Asteroid 2023 AE1 - A relatively small asteroid with a size of 40 feet will fly past Earth by a very close margin on January 22. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 AE1, will make its closest approach with the planet at a distance of 1.4 million kilometers. The asteroid is travelling towards the planet at a blistering speed of 19933 kilometers per hour.  (Bloomberg)
Asteroid Ryugu
3/5 Asteroid 2019 BO2 – Another asteroid named 2019 BO2 will make its closest approach to Earth on January 24 at a distance of 4.6 million kilometers. The asteroid, with a width of 67 feet, is travelling at a staggering speed of 58345 kilometers per hour towards the planet.  (Pixabay)
Asteroid Ryugu
4/5 Asteroid 2019 BZ4 - NASA has issued an alert against another asteroid named Asteroid 2019 BZ4. According to NASA, it is the size of a house with a width of 62 feet. It is expected to fly past Earth closely on January 24 at a distance of 6.3 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a speedy 20171 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
Asteroid Ryugu
5/5 Asteroid 2023 AQ1 - The fifth and largest asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 AQ1 is heading for Earth and is expected to pass by the planet closely on January 25. Asteroid 2023 AQ1 is already on its way towards us travelling at a fearsome speed of 56507 kilometers per hour. The asteroid, with a width between 137 feet and 305 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth a distance of just 3.9 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
Asteroid Ryugu
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Asteroid Ryugu samples from Hayabusa2 spacecraft can open the window into the formation of the solar system. (NASA)

Asteroid Ryugu is a diamond-shaped space rock that may hold several secrets about the formation of our solar system. In research recently published in Nature Astronomy, scientists used mineral samples from the Ryugu asteroid to understand the chemical composition of our solar system in its early stages of around 4.5 billion years ago. The sample was collected by Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft. “Scientists using isotopic analysis discovered that carbonate minerals from the asteroid were crystallized through reactions with water, which originally accreted to the asteroid as ice in the still-forming solar system, then warmed into liquid,” the report mentioned.

Scientists say that these carbonates were formed way too early, within the first 1.8 million years of the solar system's existence. These samples also preserve a record of the temperature and composition of the asteroid's aqueous fluid for earlier times. The result of the study surprised the researchers as most asteroid aggregation models would predict assembly over longer periods, which results in the formation of bodies at least 50 kilometers in diameter.

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However, it must be noted that the asteroid Ryugu is currently only about 1 kilometer in diameter. This is due to a result of collisions and reassembly throughout its past. Researchers note that “any larger asteroid formed very early on in the solar system would have been heated to high temperatures by the decay of large amounts of aluminum-26, a radioactive nuclide, resulting in the melting of rock throughout the asteroid's interior, along with chemical differentiation, such as the segregation of metal and silicate.”

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However, Ryugu shows no evidence of that. Moreover, the chemical composition shows mineralogical compositions which were found in the most chemically primitive meteorites, said to be formed in the outer solar system.

Why Ryugu is an important asteroid to study solar system formation

This carbon-rich Ryugu asteroid is the first C-type asteroid, where C means “carbonaceous”. What makes it special is that unlike meteorites it has not had potentially contaminating contact with Earth. Hence, while analyzing the chemical fingerprints of the asteroid's sample, researchers and scientists understand not only how asteroid Ryugu was formed but where it was formed.

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First Published Date: 21 Jan, 11:21 IST

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