PerspectivePlanetary Science

An Isotopic View of the Early Solar System

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Science  11 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5617, pp. 265-267
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080300

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Short-lived radioisotopes that can now only be traced through their daughter isotopes hold the key to many processes in the early solar system. In his Perspective, Zinner reviews recent attempts to elucidate these early events. Three main sources of short-lived isotopes are generally considered: the interstellar medium, high-energy particles from the early Sun, and a stellar event shortly preceding the formation of the solar system. The author argues that current evidence points to a supernova explosion that triggered the formation of our solar system and provided most of the short-lived isotopes.