Isotopic evidence for primordial molecular cloud material in metal-rich carbonaceous chondrites

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The short-lived (26)Al radionuclide is thought to have been admixed into the initially (26)Al-poor protosolar molecular cloud before or contemporaneously with its collapse. Bulk inner Solar System reservoirs record positively correlated variability in mass-independent (54)Cr and (26)Mg*, the decay product of (26)Al. This correlation is interpreted as reflecting progressive thermal processing of in-falling (26)Al-rich molecular cloud material in the inner Solar System. The thermally unprocessed molecular cloud matter reflecting the nucleosynthetic makeup of the molecular cloud before the last addition of stellar-derived (26)Al has not been identified yet but may be preserved in planetesimals that accreted in the outer Solar System. We show that metal-rich carbonaceous chondrites and their components have a unique isotopic signature extending from an inner Solar System composition toward a (26)Mg*-depleted and (54)Cr-enriched component. This composition is consistent with that expected for thermally unprocessed primordial molecular cloud material before its pollution by stellar-derived (26)Al. The (26)Mg* and (54)Cr compositions of bulk metal-rich chondrites require significant amounts (25-50%) of primordial molecular cloud matter in their precursor material. Given that such high fractions of primordial molecular cloud material are expected to survive only in the outer Solar System, we infer that, similarly to cometary bodies, metal-rich carbonaceous chondrites are samples of planetesimals that accreted beyond the orbits of the gas giants. The lack of evidence for this material in other chondrite groups requires isolation from the outer Solar System, possibly by the opening of disk gaps from the early formation of gas giants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2011-2016
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 161157587