The matter of the early solar system was studied using a quantum beam

A team of researchers led by the University of Tokyo published the results of studying the sample

from the asteroid Ryugu delivered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The composition of the asteroid refines the chemical properties of the early solar system.

For their work, scientists have developed a new method,which involved capturing a quantum beam or beam of negative muons produced by one of the world's largest high-energy particle accelerators, J-PARC, in Japan. This approach makes it possible to determine the chemical composition of the material without destroying the sample.

Comparison of the composition of a sample of the asteroid Ryugu (red) and the Orgei meteorite (blue). Image: Muon analysis team

Muons are one of the elementary particles in the Universe.They can penetrate deeper into materials than X-rays, making them ideal for material analysis. When a negative muon is captured by the irradiated sample, a muonic atom is formed. The muon X-rays emitted by such atoms are of high energy and can therefore be detected with high sensitivity.

At the same time, in order to prevent contamination of samplesEarth's atmosphere, researchers have developed a special experimental setup. The inner walls of the chamber were lined with pure copper to minimize background noise when analyzing the asteroid. And he himself was placed in gaseous helium.

Comparison of the composition of the proportion of various substances insample from the asteroid Ryugu and meteorites. The blue line is the average data for a sample of carbonaceous meteorites, the red line is the Orgei meteorite. Image: Muon analysis team

The study showed that the sample is largelycorresponded in composition to carbonaceous meteorites (chondrites), which were discovered earlier and are considered a sample of the solid matter of the solar system. Many substances necessary for life were found in it, including carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. But the proportion of the latter in relation to silicon was significantly lower than that of fragments found on Earth.

Researchers suggest that chondrites, whichfell to Earth, received oxygen "pollution" in the Earth's atmosphere, which means that the distribution model of chemicals in the early solar system, when Ryugu formed, must be revised taking into account new data.

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On the cover: test facility. Image: Muon analysis team