Young chondrules in CB chondrites from a giant impact in the early Solar System

Chondrules, which are the major constituent of chondritic meteorites, are believed to have formed during brief, localized, repetitive melting of dust ( probably caused by shock waves(1,2)) in the protoplanetary disk around the early Sun. The ages of primitive chondrules(3-6) in chondritic meteorites indicate that their formation started shortly after that of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions (4,567.2 +/- 0.7 Myr ago) and lasted for about 3 Myr, which is consistent with the dissipation timescale for protoplanetary disks around young solar-mass stars(7). Here we report the Pb-207-Pb-206 ages of chondrules in the metal-rich CB (Bencubbin-like) carbonaceous chondrites Gujba (4,562.7 +/- 0.5 Myr) and Hammadah al Hamra 237 (4,562.8 +/- 0.9 Myr), which formed during a single-stage, highly energetic event(8-11). Both the relatively young ages and the single-stage formation of the CB chondrules are inconsistent with formation during a nebular shock wave(2). We conclude that chondrules and metal grains in the CB chondrites formed from a vapour-melt plume produced by a giant impact between planetary embryos after dust in the protoplanetary disk had largely dissipated. These findings therefore provide evidence for planet-sized objects in the earliest asteroid belt, as required by current numerical simulations of planet formation in the inner Solar System(12).

Published in:
Nature, 436, 989-992

 Record created 2012-05-15, last modified 2018-03-17

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