Meteorite points to asteroid Vesta’s dynamo

A sample of the eucrite meteorite ALHA81001

A team of scientists in the US says that the asteroid Vesta probably had a rotating liquid core in its early history. This, the researchers say, created a dynamo that produced a magnetic field strong enough to magnetize the rocks on its surface. As it was previously thought that only larger planets, such as Earth, had dynamos, the work suggests that protoplanets, like asteroids, may be more planet-like than previously thought. The findings could help researchers better understand the early history of the formation of the solar system.
Vesta is one of the most massive asteroids in the solar system, second only to the dwarf planet Ceres. The Dawn mission to study both Vesta and Ceres was launched by NASA in 2007. It entered orbit around Vesta on 16 July 2011 then on 5 September this year it left orbit and it is currently en route to Ceres, where it is scheduled to arrive in February 2015. Vesta is known to have lost about 1% of its mass in a collision that is thought to have occurred a billion years ago. This left a massive impact crater occupying much of Vesta’s southern hemisphere and debris from this event has fallen to Earth as howardite–eucrite–diogenite (HED) meteorites. These have been traced back to the asteroid by matching the unique oxygen-isotope “fingerprints”, which prove that the meteorites originated from Vesta……
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