Researchers at the University of Chicago looked at microscopic ice-blue crystals called hibonite, and their composition bears earmarks of chemical reactions that only would have occurred if the early Sun was spitting lots of energetic particles. And even though they are less than 100 microns across, they were still able to retain these highly volatile noble gases that were produced through irradiation from the young Sun such a long time ago. They're probably the first minerals that formed in the Solar System.
Before the planets formed, the Solar System was made up of the Sun with a massive disk of gas and dust spiralling around it. As the disk cooled down, the earliest minerals began to form - blue hibonite crystals. When the crystals were newly formed, the young Sun continued to flare, shooting protons and other subatomic particles out into space. Some of these particles hit the blue hibonite crystals. When the protons struck the calcium and aluminium atoms in the crystals, the atoms split apart into smaller atoms -- neon and helium. And the neon and helium remained trapped inside the crystals for billions of years. These crystals got incorporated into space rocks that eventually fell to Earth as meteorites. When we look at a pile of these grains under a microscope, the hibonite grains stand out as little light blue crystals. They contain elements like calcium and aluminium.
Researchers have looked at meteorites for evidence of an early active Sun before but didn't find anything. This time, the team examined the crystals with a unique state-of-the-art mass spectrometer in Switzerland - a garage-sized machine that can determine objects' chemical make-up. Attached to the mass spectrometer, a laser melted a tiny grain of hibonite crystal from a meteorite, releasing the helium and neon trapped inside so they could be detected.
In addition to finally finding clear evidence in meteorites that disk materials were directly irradiated, the new results indicate that the Solar System's oldest materials experienced a phase of irradiation that younger materials avoided. This probably means that a major change occurred in the nascent Solar System after the hibonites had formed.
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Information Source: GeologyIn.com