Analysis of samples returned by NASA's Genesis mission indicates our sun and its inner planets may have formed differently than scientists previously thought.
The data revealed slight differences in the types of oxygen and nitrogen present on the sun and planets. The elements are among the most abundant in our solar system. Although the differences are slight, the implications could help determine how our solar system evolved.
The air on Earth contains three different kinds of oxygen atoms, which are differentiated by the number of neutrons they contain. Nearly 100 percent of oxygen atoms in the solar system are composed of O-16, but there also are tiny amounts of more exotic oxygen isotopes called O-17 and O-18. Researchers studying the oxygen of Genesis samples
found that the percentage of O-16 in the sun is slightly higher than on Earth, the moon, and meteorites. The other isotopes' percentages were slightly lower. (read more)