PerspectivePlanetary Science

Peering into Stardust

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Science  04 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5616, pp. 68-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082234

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Stardust--the tiny interstellar dust grains that predate the formation of the solar system--are generally believed to have an anomalous isotopic composition. But as Tielens explains in his Perspective, some presolar grains may not have an anomalous isotopic composition despite similar texture, structure, and morphology. He highlights the results of Messenger et al., who found that only 6 out of 1000 GEMS particles (glass with embedded metal and sulfides)--widely believed to represent stardust--have an anomalous isotopic composition. The study suggests that the particles have been processed in the early solar system, leaving no trace of their stardust origin.