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June 2009 Extra: Pre-solar

June 2009 Extra

In this episode we discover that meteorites can tell us a surprising amount about our solar system and its local neighbourhood.


During May, Professor Ernst Zinner visited Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and Stuart and Jen caught up with him. Around 22 years ago a group at the University of Chicago managed to isolate tiny dust grains in primitive meteorites. It turned out that these dust grains were actually little bits of star dust from stars that existed before our solar system. Many of the grains that have been studied have come from the Murchison meteorite but also meteorites collected in Antarctica. There are two types of grain seen: carbonaceous or oxygen rich grains. All of the carbonaceous grains were formed in stars rather than our solar system.

In this interview we find out how the meteorites are studied, about the existence of water on asteroids, and the discovery of nano-diamonds.

Ask an Astronomer

Roy puts listener questions to Tim O'Brien.

Odds and Ends

The Newbury Astronomical Society hosted a Moonwatch event on Twitter. They tweeted images of the Moon and Saturn and encouraged others to do the same. It was a roaring success.

Over in the Forum, the list of astronomical acronyms is growing.

We talk more about Jodcast Live event which will be in either September, October or November. If you want to be there and have a preference, let us know in the comments.

Show Credits

Interview:Prof Ernst Zinner, Stuart Lowe and Jen Gupta
Ask An Astronomer:Dr Tim O'Brien and Roy Smits
Presenters:Megan Argo, Jen Gupta and Roy Smits
Editors:Megan Argo, Roy Smits and Stuart Lowe
Segment voice:Danny Wong-McSweeney
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:SEM-image of a presolar SiC-grain extracted by a new method avoiding the use of any acids. Credit: School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Uni. Manchester

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