Feeds

Stardust finds comets are born of fire and ice

A space oddity

High performance access to file storage

Surprising data from NASA's Stardust programme has revealed that comets have heat-formed components.

Scientists analysing samples from the seven-year mission to collect material from the tail of comet Wild 2 found glassy particles that must have been formed at high temperatures. Stardust curator Michael Zolensky said: "It seems that comets are a mixture of materials formed at all temperatures, at places very near the early sun and at places very remote from it."

The revelation means comets may not be as simple as the clouds of ice, dust and gases they were thought to be. The researchers compare the high temperature material to Hawaiian beach sand, with iron, magnesium, calcium, aluminum and titanium components.

Stardust principal investigator Donald Brownlee spelt out the paradox of the finding: "The interesting thing is we are finding these high-temperature minerals in materials from the coldest place in the solar system."

Stardust returned to Earth in the Utah desert back in January. Next for the international community of 150 scientists working on the samples is to examine the interstellar dust material the probe returned. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.