Iron meteorites indicate millions of years of chaos in the early solar system

Asteroid collisions early in the solar system exposed their iron cores to space, allowing them to cool rapidly. (Image credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech)

A great demolition derby, with a chaotic mess of forming asteroids and planets constantly colliding with each other, took place at the start of the solar system between 7.8 million and 11.7 million years after formation from the sun, according to a new analysis of iron meteorites that were once part of the cores of metallic asteroids.

An international team of researchers has analyzed palladium, silver and platinum isotopes in 18 iron meteorites found on Earth to better understand the evolution of their parent bodies. Metallic asteroids contain dense iron cores and iron meteorites come from these nuclei, blown up by collisions with other asteroids.

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