Professor Tim Elliott - inaugural lecture

Professor in the School of Earth Sciences Professor Tim Elliott

The lecture took place on Friday 10 February 2012.

Fallout from a Supernova Neighbour

Our solar system is a blend of the effluvia from many stellar explosions.  Different types of stars contribute debris with highly contrasting isotopic compositions.  Thus we can isotopically identify the stellar origin of elements most recently added to the solar system mix, which have survived complete homogenisation.  By making high precision isotope ratio measurements on a range of meteorites we have been able to fingerprint such residual signals in the subtly varying compositions of different planetary bodies.  Counter to recent suggestions that the apparently neutron rich nature of these isotopic anomalies requires an input from a rare Type Ia super nova event, we show that the solar system has been most recently polluted with nuclear waste from a more common Type II supernova.  This is reassuringly in keeping with a reasonable astrophysical birth setting and prior documentation of the presence of some key short-lived radionuclides in the early solar system.  It is also compatible with the hypothesised super-nova trigger for nebula collapse and subsequent planetary growth.

Professor Tim Elliott inaugural lecture - 10 February