Short-lived nuclides in the early solar system
Isotopic records in meteorites provide evidence for the presence of several short-lived nuclides in the early solar system with half-lives varying from 105 to ∼8x107 years. Most of the nuclides with longer half-life (> 107 years) are considered to be products of stellar nucleosynthesis taking place over long time scales in our galaxy. However, for the relatively shorter-lived nuclides, two possibilities exist; they could be products of energetic particle interactions taking place in a presolar or early solar environment, or, they could have been produced in a stellar source and injected into the protosolar molecular cloud just prior to its collapse. The presently available data appear to support the latter case and put a stringent constraint of less than a million years for the time scale for the collapse of the protosolar molecular cloud to form the Sun and some of the first solar system solids. This short time scale also suggests the possibility of a triggered origin for the solar system with the very process of injection of the short-lived nuclides acting as the trigger for the collapse of the protosolar molecular cloud. Fossil records of the short-lived nuclides in meteorites also provide very useful chronological information on the early solar system processes like the time scale for nebular processing, the time scales for differentiation and for metal/silicate fractionation within planetesimals. The currently available data suggest a time scale of a few million years for nebular processing and a relatively short time scale of about ten million years within which differentiation, melting and recrystallization in some of the planetesimals took place.