PerspectivePlanetary Science

Predicting the Sun's Oxygen Isotope Composition

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Science  17 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5691, pp. 1729-1730
DOI: 10.1126/science.1102893

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Oxygen-isotope ratios in different solar system materials indicate thatO-rich andO-poor reservoirs must have existed in the early solar system. When, and where, such signatures evolved and how the solar system acquired such signatures has remained elusive. In his Perspective, Yin highlights a new class of models, including that of Yurimoto and Kuramoto, which provide a potential solution of this longstanding problem. The new model (4) focuses on selective ultraviolet photodissociation of CO in the parent molecular cloud that collapsed to form the solar system. Subsequent interactions among HO, CO, and dust grains then result in the observed isotopic signatures in planetary materials. The predicted oxygen isotope composition of the Sun, cometary HO, and cometary CO can soon be tested by NASA's Genesis and Stardust missions.