A 4,565-My-old record of the solar nebula field

Clara Maurel and Jérôme Gattacceca

PNAS, March 4, 2024 121 (12)


“ABSTRACT: Magnetic fields in protoplanetary disks are thought to play a prominent role in the formation of planetary bodies. Acting upon turbulence and angular momentum transport, they may influence the motion of solids and accretion onto the central star. By searching for the record of the solar nebula field preserved in meteorites, we aim to characterize the strength of a disk field with a spatial and temporal resolution far superior to observations of extrasolar disks. Here, we present a rock magnetic and paleomagnetic study of the andesite meteorite Erg Chech 002 (EC002). This meteorite contains submicron iron grains, expected to be very reliable magnetic recorders, and carries a stable, high-coercivity magnetization. After ruling out potential sources of magnetic contamination, we show that EC002 most likely carries an ancient thermoremanent magnetization acquired upon cooling on its parent body. Using the U-corrected Pb-Pb age of the meteorite’s pyroxene as a proxy for the timing of magnetization acquisition, we estimate that EC002 recorded a field of 60 ± 18 µT at a distance of ~2 to 3 astronomical units, 2.0 ± 0.3 My after the formation of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions. This record can only be explained if EC002 was magnetized by the field prevalent in the solar nebula. This makes EC002’s record, particularly well resolved in time and space, one of the two earliest records of the solar nebula field. Such a field intensity is consistent with stellar accretion rates observed in extrasolar protoplanetary disks.”