Research ArticleGEOCHEMISTRY

Heating events in the nascent solar system recorded by rare earth element isotopic fractionation in refractory inclusions

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Science Advances  06 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 2, eabc2962
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2962

Abstract

Equilibrium condensation of solar gas is often invoked to explain the abundance of refractory elements in planets and meteorites. This is partly motivated, by the observation that the depletions in both the least and most refractory rare earth elements (REEs) in meteoritic group II calcium-aluminum–rich inclusions (CAIs) can be reproduced by thermodynamic models of solar nebula condensation. We measured the isotopic compositions of Ce, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Dy, Er, and Yb in eight CAIs to test this scenario. Contrary to expectation for equilibrium condensation, we find light isotope enrichment for the most refractory REEs and more subdued isotopic variations for the least refractory REEs. This suggests that group II CAIs formed by a two-stage process involving fast evaporation of preexisting materials, followed by near-equilibrium recondensation. The calculated time scales are consistent with heating in events akin to FU Orionis– or EX Lupi–type outbursts of eruptive pre–main-sequence stars.

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