Researchers use muon beams to analyze the elemental composition of the asteroid Ryugu samples

The researchers used muon beams to analyze the elemental composition of the asteroid samples Ryugu

(Left) X-rays generated after a muon is captured by radioactive materials, and (Proper) a pattern from the asteroid Ryugu. Credit score: (left picture) Muon Evaluation Crew, (proper picture) JAXA

Stone samples introduced again to Earth from the asteroid Ryugu have been analyzed for his or her elemental composition utilizing an industrially constructed muon beam from the J-PARC particle accelerator. Researchers have discovered a lot of essential components wanted to maintain life, together with carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, however additionally they discovered that the abundance of oxygen relative to silicon within the Ryugu asteroid is completely different from all meteorites discovered on Earth, in accordance with a brand new examine in Sciences.

In 2014, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA) launched the unmanned asteroid explorer Hayabusa 2, on a mission to return samples from the Ryugu asteroid, a kind C asteroid that researchers imagine is wealthy in carbon. After efficiently touchdown on Ryugu and gathering samples, Hayabusa 2 returned to Earth in December 2020 with intact samples.

Since 2021, researchers have performed the primary analyzes of the samples, led by College of Tokyo professor Shogo Tachibana. Break up into a number of groups, the researchers have been finding out the samples in numerous methods, together with lithic shapes, elemental distribution, and mineral composition.

On this examine, Tohoku College professor Tomoki Nakamura, Professor Tadayuki Takahashi and graduate scholar Shunsaku Nagasawa of the Kavli Institute for Physics and Arithmetic of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), College of Tokyo, led in collaboration with the Excessive Power Acceleration Analysis Group (KEK) Institute for Materials Construction Science, and Osaka College. , the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAEA), Kyoto College, Worldwide Christian College, Institute of Astronautics and Astronautics (ISAS), and Tohoku College have utilized elemental evaluation strategies utilizing destructive muons, the elementary particles produced by the accelerator at J-PARC.

They utilized the tactic of elemental evaluation utilizing destructive muons to stones from the asteroid Ryugu, and succeeded in figuring out their elemental compositions in a non-destructive method.

The researchers used muon beams to analyze the elemental composition of the asteroid samples Ryugu

The specifically designed experiment setup was developed to keep away from contamination of the samples by the Earth’s environment. The inside is stuffed with helium fuel, and the chamber is lined with pure copper to cut back background noise. Credit score: Muon . Evaluation Crew

This was essential, as a result of if asteroids have been constructed within the photo voltaic system originally of the formation of the photo voltaic system itself, they might nonetheless obscure details about the common preliminary formation at the moment, and subsequently about the whole photo voltaic system.

Evaluation of meteorites which have fallen to Earth has been carried out up to now, however it’s seemingly that these samples have been contaminated by the Earth’s environment. Due to this fact, till Hayabusa 2, nobody knew what the chemical composition of the asteroid was for positive.

However the researchers confronted a problem. As a result of restricted variety of samples and the massive variety of different researchers keen to check them, they wanted to discover a technique to conduct their analyzes with out destroying them in order that the samples may very well be transferred to different teams.

The staff developed a brand new methodology, which concerned firing a quantum beam, or particularly a beam of destructive muons, produced by one of many world’s largest high-energy particle accelerators J-PARC in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, to find out the chemical components of delicate samples with out breaking them.

The researchers used muon beams to analyze the elemental composition of the asteroid samples Ryugu

Muonic X-ray spectroscopic comparability of the Ryugu asteroid pattern and the CI chondrite Orgueil pattern. Credit score: Muon . Evaluation Crew

Then Takahashi and Nagasawa utilized statistical evaluation methods in X-ray astronomy and particle physics experiments to research the muon property of X-rays.

Muons are one of many elementary particles within the universe. Its capacity to penetrate supplies deeper than X-rays makes it very best for materials evaluation. When the destructive muon is captured by the irradiated pattern, a muon atom is shaped. The muon x-rays emitted by the brand new muon atoms have excessive vitality, and subsequently may be detected with excessive sensitivity. This methodology was used to research the Ryugu samples.

However there was one other problem. To be able to forestall the samples from contaminating Earth’s environment, the researchers wanted to maintain the samples away from contact with oxygen and water within the air. Due to this fact, they needed to develop an experimental setup, inserting the pattern in a helium fuel chamber. The interior partitions of the chamber have been lined with pure copper to cut back background noise when analyzing samples.

In June 2021, 0.1 grams of asteroid Ryugu was dropped at J-PARC, and researchers performed muon X-ray evaluation, which produced an vitality spectrum. They present in it the weather wanted to provide life, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, however additionally they discovered that the pattern had a composition much like that of the carbonaceous chondrite asteroids (CI chondrite), that are sometimes called the usual for solids. within the photo voltaic system. This confirmed that the Ryugu stones have been among the many oldest stones that shaped in our photo voltaic system.

The researchers used muon beams to analyze the elemental composition of the asteroid samples Ryugu

Comparability of the basic composition of the asteroid pattern Ryugu and the CI chondrite Orgueil (Okay. Lodders, The Astrophysical Journal, 591, 1220-1247, 2003). X-rays of oxygen present that the abundance of oxygen for the Ryugu pattern was decrease in comparison with that of the CI chondrite. Credit score: Muon . Evaluation Crew

Nonetheless, whereas the composition of the Ryugu pattern is comparable in composition to that of the CI chondrite, the oxygen abundance of the Ryugu pattern relative to silicon was about 25 p.c decrease than that of the CI chondrite. The researchers say this will likely point out that the surplus abundance of oxygen relative to silicon within the CI chondrite may very well be as a result of air pollution after it enters the Earth’s environment. Ryugu stones may set a brand new commonplace for matter within the photo voltaic system.


Mud grains from the asteroid Ryugu older than our photo voltaic system


extra data:
Nakamura, Formation and Evolution of the Carboniferous Asteroid Ryugu: Direct Proof from Return Samples, Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abn8671. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abn8671

Submitted by the Kavli Institute for Physics and Arithmetic within the Universe

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