Pristine extraterrestrial material with unprecedented nitrogen isotopic variation

Pristine meteoritic materials carry light element isotopic fractionations that constrain physiochemical conditions during solar system formation. Here we report the discovery of a unique xenolith in the metal-rich chondrite Isheyevo. Its fine-grained, highly pristine mineralogy has similarity with interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), but the volume of the xenolith is more than 30,000 times that of a typical IDP. Furthermore, an extreme continuum of N isotopic variation is present in this xenolith: from very light N isotopic composition (delta N-15(AIR) = -310 +/- 20%), similar to that inferred for the solar nebula, to the heaviest ratios measured in any solar system material (delta N-15(AIR) = 4,900 +/- 300%). At the same time, its hydrogen and carbon isotopic compositions exhibit very little variation. This object poses serious challenges for existing models for the origin of light element isotopic anomalies.

Published in:
Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 106, 10522-10527

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

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