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Team finds tiny fragment of a comet inside a meteorite

Center Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson is part of a team that discovered a carbon-rich fragment inside the primitive asteroidal meteorite, LaPaz Icefield 02342, found in Antarctica.  The team was led by the Carnegie Institution for Science's Larry Nittler, and the discovery was recently published in Nature Astronomy.

Read the article in Nature Astronomy here!

Read more and see photos at ASU Now (excerpt below)!

Comet Halley 1
Thumbnail of image Comet P/Halley as taken March 8, 1986 by W. Liller, Easter Island, part of the International Halley Watch (IHW) Large Scale Phenomena Network.

A tiny piece of the building blocks from which comets formed has been discovered inside a primitive meteorite. The discovery by a Carnegie Institution for Science-led team, including a researcher now at Arizona State University, was published April 15 in Nature Astronomy.

The finding could offer clues to the formation, structure and evolution of the solar system.

"The meteorite is named LaPaz Icefield 02342," said research scientist Jemma Davidson, of ASU's Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. "The name comes from where it was found in Antarctica's LaPaz Icefield."

She adds that it belongs to a class of primitive carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that have undergone minimal changes since they formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, likely beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
Carbon-rich fragment
The carbon-rich fragment the material comets are built from is colored red in this scanning electron microscope image. The scale bar shows its size. Image by Larry Nittler/Carnegie Institution for Science.