Hayabusa 2 returned samples reveal a weak to null magnetic field during aqueous alteration of Ryugu’s parent bodyOPEN ACCESS 

C. Maurel, J. Gattacceca, M. Uehara

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 627, 1 February 2024, 118559



  • Ryugu samples of 1 and 22 mg do not exhibit any stable remanent magnetization.
  • Ryugu’s parent body aqueously altered either in a few-µT field or in a null field.
  • This favors the hypothesis that Ryugu’s parent body formed beyond 5 au.
  • Published data arguing for a strong paleofield may be due to magnetic contamination.
  • The NRM/susceptibility ratio is a non-destructive indicator of such a contamination.”

“The JAXA Hayabusa 2 mission returned 5.4 g of material from the C-type asteroid Ryugu. The Mn-Cr ages of dolomite in the returned samples indicate that Ryugu’s parent body experienced aqueous alteration sometimes between <1.8 and 6.8 Myr after CAI formation. Because this time range overlaps with the lifetime of the solar nebula, we investigate the possibility that magnetite and pyrrhotite, which are aqueous alteration products found in Ryugu samples, acquired a remanent magnetization reflecting the nebula field intensity. We analyze the intrinsic magnetic properties and paleomagnetic record of three Ryugu samples of 0.82, 0.97 and 21.87 mg. None of the samples exhibit a stable natural remanent magnetization. This indicates that the aqueous alteration of Ryugu’s parent body took place either in a field of a few µT, or in a very weak to null field. In the former scenario, the solar nebula field is the most likely magnetizing field, implying that aqueous alteration occurred before its dissipation, i.e., before ∼5 Myr after CAI formation. In the latter scenario, aqueous alteration must have occurred either after the dissipation of the nebula, or at an earlier epoch and a large heliocentric distance (> 5 au). The similarities between Ryugu samples and CI chondrites favor this second hypothesis. Our results contrast with another paleomagnetic study of two Ryugu samples, arguing for a paleofield intensity of 40 to 390 µT. Our interpretation of this discrepancy is that these samples were exposed to artificial magnetic fields (> mT) during preceding experiments. This highlights the importance of conducting, as much as possible, the paleomagnetic investigations of returned samples before any other experiment. We also demonstrate that the ratio of NRM over low-field magnetic susceptibility is a powerful, non-destructive indicator of magnetic contamination. We recommend measuring this ratio routinely before paleomagnetic investigations of meteorites and returned samples.”