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Space Science

Supernova Shrapnel Found In Meteorite 105

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-missed-the-dinosaurs dept.
coondoggie writes "Talk about finding a needle in a cosmic haystack. Scientists this week said they found microscopic shrapnel in a meteorite of a star they say exploded around the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago."
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Supernova Shrapnel Found In Meteorite

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:52PM (#33523884) Homepage Journal

    Remarkable!

    Think of the odds: this meteorite landed 146 years ago in 1864.

    What are the chances that something would be flying around the solar system for nearly 4.5 billion years then hit this wee planet which was Created only 5854 years earlier?

    Most amazing indeed.
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:56PM (#33523938) Homepage

    Were they able to recover any files from Suprnova?

  • Imagine shooting blindly at the sky, and your bullet making it to a life sustaining planet billions of miles away by sheer blind luck. Not even Davy Crockett could pull off a shot like that!
    • Oh yes he could! Because he has the moral superiority to never miss (he would have waited for Greedo to shoot first)!
    • by eln (21727) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:11PM (#33524200) Homepage
      This is why you should never shoot blindly into the sky. Sure you think it's harmless, but your great-great-great-great(etc)-grandparents won't think it's so funny when they get attacked out of the blue by an alien race from another star system seeking revenge for your errant shot that just happened to kill their beloved leader. Your celebratory gunfire after your local sports team wins some meaningless (from a pan-galactic perspective) competition could end up sparking an interstellar war.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by damien_kane (519267)
          You jest, but, that shot was observed by the aliens who have a station on the dark side of the moon.
          That base was erected (similar to NORAD) as an early warning/observation post.
          Via subspace/ftl data transmission, they have warned the beings on their home planet (99.99~ light years away) that Sol-3 has launched a pre-emptive strike with a single death ray.
          First response was, of course, to send enough ordinance towards earth that we will assuredly be destroyed.
          We will be attacked by the alien life-forms,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zenaku (821866)

        My great-great-great-great(etc)-grandparents are all dead already, so they probably won't be troubled by it.

        • by eln (21727)
          Yeah um...that was totally intentional because the future is actually entirely populated by people from the distance past due to a freak time machine accident. Yeah, that's the ticket.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jackpot777 (1159971)

      Sounds impressive, until you think of how many of these fragments were flying around in all directions.

      Think of it as a More Dakka [tvtropes.org] situation of stellar proportions.

    • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:13PM (#33524234)

      Davy Crocket didn't have > 2 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 tons of bullets either.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Thank you. My first sig!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by srussia (884021)

        Davy Crocket didn't have > 2 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 tons of bullets either.

        Apparently, Wilt Chamberlain did. This is like finding one of his kids.

        • Carl Sagan once said that it's impossible to actually write out all the names of his children, as this would require more space than the universe provides.
          • by osu-neko (2604)

            Carl Sagan once said that it's impossible to actually write out all the names of his children, as this would require more space than the universe provides.

            Was this before or after smokin' a doobie?

    • by tom17 (659054)
      Now grab a handful of sand and try throwing it in the direction of a target *without* hitting it.
    • by martas (1439879)
      well yeah, but if fuckloads of people on fuckloads of planets were shooting fuckloads of bullets into the sky, the chances of one of them getting to that planet might not be so tiny... with less profanity, what i'm saying is "multiplying a small number by a large number can lead to a medium number".
      • except for the fact that 100% of the bullets fell back down to their respective planents

        • by martas (1439879)
          well yeah, we're talking about bullets shot from hypothetical guns capable of escaping a planet's and star's orbit.
    • >> Imagine shooting blindly at the sky, and your bullet making it to a life sustaining planet billions of miles away

      I'm pretty sure every 9 year-old with a flashlight has done this at least once.

      • >> Imagine shooting blindly at the sky, and your bullet making it to a life sustaining planet billions of miles away

        I'm pretty sure every 9 year-old with a flashlight has done this at least once.

        Guilty as charged.

    • Yes, but there are a LOT of bullets and a LOT of shooters
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Imagine shooting blindly at the sky, and your bullet making it to a life sustaining planet billions of miles away by sheer blind luck. Not even Davy Crockett could pull off a shot like that!

      And, now imagine the sheer number of stars which have gone supernova and sprayed stuff all over the place which eventually collided with planets and whatever else is out there.

      Most of the elements that make up our bodies had be to created in stars that eventually died. The fact that we are made up of the leftovers from

    • Chuck Norris was wandering the universe looking for asses to kick, got bored, and shot it.

      I bet you're glad he hit Earth and not Uranus.
  • by snookerhog (1835110) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:02PM (#33524030)
    no I didn't RTFA and it has been a while since my last astrophysics class, but isn't any atom heavier than Fe technically supernova shrapnel? I always understood that supernovas were the only place that there was enough energy to make these heavier atoms, no?
    • by radtea (464814) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:13PM (#33524236)

      isn't any atom heavier than Fe technically supernova shrapnel?

      Not if you consider "shrapnel" to mean "fragments that are small but not gaseous". The point here is that a nanoscale grain of chromium54 has been found, which suggests it cooled out of the supernova gas cloud and was driven into the meteroite during a collision, so it is a more-or-less pristine piece of supernova condensate that has not been processed further, the way the iron on Earth has, for example.

      That's a fairly interesting find, I'd say.

      • ...pristine piece of supernova condensate

        De Beers has found its new premium wedding ring stone to part consumers from their money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jackpot777 (1159971)
      We are all made of stars.
    • I didn't RTFA yet either (and I'm hoping to find something a little more reliable/interesting/useful than a NetworkWorld blog), but, reading between the lines of the summary, I think the point is not so much that it comes from a supernova, but that they identified the particular supernova. Which would be pretty amazing. Of course, given the accuracy of detail in a typical slashdot summary, this could actually turn out to be a story about anything from a new supernova being discovered in a distant galaxy t

    • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:56PM (#33527342)

      isn't any atom heavier than Fe technically supernova shrapnel?

      Iron is kind of a ground-state on the periodic table. Below that, more energy is required to keep an atom together (hence, why fusion works to release energy), above that it takes less energy to have the atom be smaller (hence, why fission *also* releases energy). Iron is the direction everything trends towards. When every last drop of energy has been squeezed out of the universe, the final super-massive black hole of everything will be made up of a giant ball of iron.

      • Not really, first off IANAA, in the case of larger stars, the first step is to move towards iron.
        However, massive stars have enough, um, mass to compress the matter into Neutronium, which may have been the result of iron being compressed, but no longer holds any of the characteristics of iron, seeing as it no longer holds electrons in orbit around the neutron

        Black Holes would then be further compressed beyond neutronium, and would contain no attributes of Iron, although much of the contents of the Black Hol

      • by Raenex (947668)

        When every last drop of energy has been squeezed out of the universe, the final super-massive black hole of everything will be made up of a giant ball of iron.

        Just a layman's view here, but that is wrong. Current theories state that the energy in the Universe is a constant. Also, given the accelerated expansion, there shouldn't be a single black hole left, but many isolated ones where the galaxies used to be. I'll pass on the "ball of iron" bit.

      • remember thou art rust and unto rust thou shalt return
  • Of course it came here. Don't you read comics?
  • Readability (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Scientists this week said they found microscopic shrapnel in a meteorite of a star they say exploded around the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago."

    You know, editors, that sentence would be a lot more readable if it were phrased: "Scientists this week said they found, embedded in a meteorite, microscopic shrapnel from a star they say exploded around the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago"

    I had to do a double-take because of "meteorite of a star they say exploded". I didn't know stars had meteorites!

  • by GlobalEcho (26240) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:14PM (#33524254)

    Everything on this earth heavier than lead (atomic number 82) comes from supernovae. And most of the other heavy stuff (heavier than iron) comes from them as well.

    So we live among a lot of supernova remnants.

    • by kurokame (1764228) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:33PM (#33526380)

      Almost right. You can only really make those heavier elements through processes which occur during a supernova, yes. But although lighter elements (say, carbon) can be made during normal stellar lifetimes...how are you going to get it out?

      I found a supernova remnant this morning. It was my foot.

      The article is a little less than clear about the actual research that occurred, as usual. From the sound of it, I suspect that what they found was discrete ejecta - a blob of material which recognizably came from a specific supernova which had not mixed with other material. This is cool since it gives us a sample which we can study in that specific context.

    • by hAckz0r (989977)
      Yes, quite a remarkable /. story, I agree. Just imagine, supernova shrapnel embedded in supernova shrapnel? Read all about it! Just like hitting a bullet with a bullet one might think! And it landed here? Wow, What are the odds /. readers?

      Only, there are only more of these kinds of bullets/shrapnel flying around the Universe than we can possibly count, so who would ever think think that one would ever have landed here, after a collision, in only a few, say 14.7 Billion years? Um, Oh, forgot, isn't that l

      • The earth is made up of (in order of occurrence in the crust) oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and everything else (each of which constitutes under 1% of the crust). All of those are at or under the atomic number of iron, so all of them are the products of fusion, not necessarily from supernovae. They could have been blasted off from red giants, for example, which don't have to go supernova.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Everything on this earth heavier than lead (atomic number 82) comes from supernovae.

      Slashdotter: "Darling, I present for your lovely finger this shiny remnant of a giant supernova that blasted into space billions of years ago in a heated nuclear fireball."

      Fiance: "If you put it that way, I don't want your stupid space-barf ring!" (*kling*)
         

      • Everything on this earth heavier than lead (atomic number 82) comes from supernovae.

        Slashdotter: "Darling, I present for your lovely finger this shiny remnant of a giant supernova that blasted into space billions of years ago in a heated nuclear fireball."

        Fiance: "If you put it that way, I don't want your stupid space-barf ring!" (*kling*)

        Carbon (diamond) is #8, far below lead. That's normal stellar fusion (once most of the hydrogen's burned up, at least), not supernova.

  • The definition of scientist is being soiled by these kinds of finds.

    I think what they mean to say is... "At least that we think it might be"

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      The definition of scientist is being soiled by these kinds of finds.

      I think what they mean to say is... "At least that we think it might be"

      It would get kinda tedious for scientists to end every sentence that way. Better to simply educate people in school about what science is, and thus they understand that every single statement any scientist makes (or for that matter, any statement any intellectually honest person makes) has that implied.

  • This might be a nitpick, but isn't *all* solid matter shrapnel from supernovas?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      Yes, but only supernovae from the Champagne region in Françe may call themselves Champagne supernovae.
    • by osu-neko (2604)

      This might be a nitpick, but isn't *all* solid matter shrapnel from supernovas?

      Most of it comes from supernovas. Most of is, however, would not be considered "shrapnel". What's unique here is the formation and preservation of bits of fresh supernova condensate.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:31PM (#33524510) Journal

    that "Supernova Shrapnel" would be an excellent name for a rock band?

    • by hawkfish (8978)

      that "Supernova Shrapnel" would be an excellent name for a rock band?

      I'm sure that Dave Barry has...

  • Finding Chromium 54 in 100 nanometer diameter nanoparticles is new, and pretty cool (although I would not want to be the one operating the tweezers !), but the basic isotopic evidence for a nearby supernova just before (and possibly causing) the formation of the solar system is decades old.

    • by ascari (1400977)
      It's better than new! It's from the future!Last time I downloaded Chromium in August it was at version 7.0 and not even Google can produce releases at that rate. Chromium 54.0 is scheduled for 2016 I think.
  • Which Supernova? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @02:09PM (#33525074) Homepage Journal

    Which supernova did this shrapnel originate in? Is it still around somewhere, 4.5Gy later? Do we know where it was, or even which direction in today's sky it would be if it were still there?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm no expert, but I think the question "which supernova this comes from?" is pointless. 4.5 billion years has passed and the remains of this supernova are probably all around half the galaxy. And they are now in form of other stars or planets, or gas clouds in interstellar space. Chances are, it is already mixed with other matter present and the only intact pieces of it are in the form of such grains.

    • by ascari (1400977)
      I used to know but I forgot. You can forget a lot in 4.5 Gy, see.
  • "Super Sharapova Found in Meteorite"? And, would this be a good thing or a bad thing?
  • Talk about finding a needle in a cosmic haystack.

    I don't know - most elements heavier than iron (or carbon or something like that) were created in a supernova, since their creation by fusion require energy rather than releasing it. So, in a way, we are all full of "supernova shrapnel".

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