Atomic-scale evidence for open-system thermodynamics in the early solar nebula

Thomas J. Zega, Venkat Rao Manga, Fred Ciesla, Krishna Muralidharan, Keitaro Watanabe, Hiromi Inada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report a new integrated framework that combines atomic-length-scale characterization via aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy with first-principles-driven thermodynamic modeling and dusttransport models to probe the origins of some of the first-formed solids in the solar system. We find that within one of the first solids that formed in our solar system, spinel, nominally MgAl2O4, occurs as a twinned inclusion within perovskite, CaTiO3, and contains vanadium segregated to its twin boundary as atomic columns. Our results support a scenario in which spinel condensed at 1435 K in the midplane of the solar protoplanetary disk and was later transported inward to a hotter region where perovskite condensed around it at 1681 K. The spinel became twinned as a result of a displacive phase transition in the perovskite after which it was later transported to cooler regions of the disk and incorporated into its parent asteroid. The condensation, transport, and phase transformation can all be explained within the developed self-consistent framework that reproduces the observed phase assemblage and atomic-scale structure. This framework suggests that planetary materials evolved within a thermodynamically open system and, moving forward, motivates such an approach in order to understand the thermodynamic landscape on which planetary materials formed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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