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Comet Grains: Their IR Emission and Their Relation to ISM GrainsComets and the chodritic, porous interplanetary dust particles (CP IDPs) that they shed in their comae are reservoirs of primitive solar nebula materials. The high porosity and fragility of cometary grains and CP IDPs, and anomalously high deuterium contents of highly fragile, pyroxene-rich Cluster IDPs imply these aggregate particles contain significant abundances of grains from the interstellar medium (ISM). IR spectra of comets (3 - 40 micron) reveal the presence of a warm (nearIR) featureless emission modeled by amorphous carbon grains. Broad and narrow resonances near 10 and 20 microns are modeled by warm chondritic (50% Fe and 50% Mg) amorphous silicates and cooler Mg-rich crystalline silicate minerals, respectively. Cometary amorphous silicates resonances are well matched by IR spectra of CP IDPs dominated by GEMS (0.1 micron silicate spherules) that are thought to be the interstellar Fe-bearing amorphous silicates produced in AGB stars. Acid-etched ultramicrotomed CP IDP samples, however, show that both the carbon phase (amorphous and aliphatic) and the Mg-rich amorphous silicate phase in GEMS are not optically absorbing. Rather, it is Fe and FeS nanoparticles embedded in the GEMS that makes the CP IDPs dark. Therefore, CP IDPs suggest significant processing has occurred in the ISM. ISM processing probably includes in He' ion bombardment in supernovae shocks. Laboratory experiments show He+ ion bombardment amorphizes crystalline silicates, increases porosity, and reduces Fe into nanoparticles. Cometary crystalline silicate resonances are well matched by IR spectra of laboratory submicron Mg-rich olivine crystals and pyroxene crystals. Discovery of a Mg-pure olivine crystal in a Cluster IDP with isotopically anomalous oxygen indicates that a small fraction of crystalline silicates may have survived their journey from AGB stars through the ISM to the early solar nebula. The ISM does not have enough crystalline silicates (<5%) , however, to account for the deduced abundance of crystalline silicates in comet dust. An insufficient source of ISM Mg-rich crystals leads to the inference that most Mg-rich crystals in comets are primitive grains processed in the early solar nebula prior to their incorporation into comets. Mg-rich crystals may condense in the hot (approx. 1450 K), inner zones of the early solar nebula and then travel large radial distances out to the comet-forming zone. On the other hand, Mg-rich silicate crystals may be ISM amorphous silicates annealed at approx. 1000 K and radially distributed out to the comet-forming zone or annealed in nebular shocks at approx. 5 - 10 AU. Determining the relative abundance of amorphous and crystalline silicates in comets probes the relative contributions of ISM grains and primitive grains to small, icy bodies in the solar system. The life cycle of dust from its stardust origins through the ISM to its incorporation into comets is discussed.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Wooden, Diane H. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
DeVincenzi, Donald
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
June 19, 2002
Subject Category
Meeting Information
International Astronomical Union Colloquium: Cometary Science After Hale-Bopp(Tenerife)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 344-37-22-07
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