News of the WeekPlanetary Science

Space Rock Hints at Early Asteroid Furnace

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Science  21 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5418, pp. 1246-1247
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5418.1246b

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On page 1348, a team of planetary scientists offers the first hard evidence of what melted large asteroids in the early solar system. They report that a 4.57-billion-year-old meteorite--a fragment of an asteroid that developed a molten interior and crust in the early days of the solar system--bears the unmistakable signs of a radioactive heat source: The rock once contained enough of the radioactive isotope aluminum-26 to have melted.