Distribution of p-process 174Hf in early solar system materials and the origin of nucleosynthetic Hf and W isotope anomalies in Ca–Al rich inclusions

Stefan T.M. Peters, Carsten Münker, Markus Pfeifer, Bo-Magnus Elfers, Peter Sprung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Some nuclides that were produced in supernovae are heterogeneously distributed between different meteoritic materials. In some cases these heterogeneities have been interpreted as the result of interaction between ejecta from a nearby supernova and the nascent solar system. Particularly in the case of the oldest objects that formed in the solar system – Ca–Al rich inclusions (CAIs) – this view is confirm the hypothesis that a nearby supernova event facilitated or even triggered solar system formation. We present Hf isotope data for bulk meteorites, terrestrial materials and CAIs, for the first time including the low-abundance isotope 174Hf (∼0.16%). This rare isotope was likely produced during explosive O/Ne shell burning in massive stars (i.e., the classical “p-process”), and therefore its abundance potentially provides a sensitive tracer for putative heterogeneities within the solar system that were introduced by supernova ejecta. For CAIs and one LL chondrite, also complementary W isotope data are reported for the same sample cuts. Once corrected for small neutron capture effects, different chondrite groups, eucrites, a silicate inclusion of a IAB iron meteorite, and terrestrial materials display homogeneous Hf isotope compositions including 174Hf. Hafnium-174 was thus uniformly distributed in the inner solar system when planetesimals formed at the <50 ppm level. This finding is in good agreement with the evidently homogeneous distributions of p-process isotopes 180W, 184Os and possibly 190Pt between different iron meteorite groups. In contrast to bulk meteorite samples, CAIs show variable depletions in p-process 174Hf with respect to the inner solar system composition, and also variable r-process (or s-process) Hf and W contributions. Based on combined Hf and W isotope compositions, we show that CAIs sampled at least one component in which the proportion of r- and s-process derived Hf and W deviates from that of supernova ejecta. The Hf and W isotope anomalies in CAIs are therefore best explained by selective processing of presolar carrier phases prior to CAI formation, and not by a late injection of supernova materials. Likewise, other isotope anomalies in additional elements in CAIs relative to the bulk solar system may reflect the same process. The isotopic heterogeneities between the first refractory condensates may have been eradicated partially during CAI formation, because W isotope anomalies in CAIs appear to decrease with increasing W concentrations as inferred from time-integrated 182W/184W. Importantly, the 176Lu–176Hf and 182Hf–182W chronometers are not significantly affected by nucleosynthetic heterogeneity of Hf isotopes in bulk meteorites, but may be affected in CAIs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-79
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • CAIs
  • nucleosynthetic anomaly


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