Ryugu sand apparently formed on outer rim of solar system

Courtesy of JAXA, University of Tokyo, other sources

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A team of researchers has found that sand brought back to Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa2 explorer from the asteroid Ryugu is likely to have formed on the outer rim of the solar system.

The team published the results of its analysis in the British science journal Nature Astronomy on Tuesday.

The researchers analyzed eight grains of Ryugu sand using the SPring-8 large synchrotron radiation facility in Sayo, Hyogo Prefecture.

Ryugu’s sand contains minerals and organic matter. Many isotopes in Ryugu’s sand were heavier than nitrogen and hydrogen found on the Earth. Heavy isotopes are abundant in celestial objects from the outer rim of the solar system, such as comets.