ION-INDUCED PROCESSING OF COSMIC SILICATES: A POSSIBLE FORMATION PATHWAY TO GEMS

1C. Jäger, 1T. Sabri, 2E. Wendler, 3Th. Henning
The Astrophysical Journal 831, 66 Link to Article [http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/0004-637X/831/1/66]
1Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Laboratory Astrophysics and Cluster Physics Group, Institute of Solid State Physics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Helmholtzweg 3, D-07743 Jena, Germany
2Institute of Solid State Physics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Helmholtzweg 3, D-07743 Jena, Germany
3Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Ion-induced processing of dust grains in the interstellar medium and in protoplanetary and planetary disks plays an important role in the entire dust cycle. We have studied the ion-induced processing of amorphous MgFeSiO4 and Mg2SiO4 grains by 10 and 20 keV protons and 90 keV Ar+ ions. The Ar+ ions were used to compare the significance of the light protons with that of heavier, but chemically inert projectiles. The bombardment was performed in a two-beam irradiation chamber for in situ ion-implantation at temperatures of 15 and 300 K and Rutherford Backscattering Spectroscopy to monitor the alteration of the silicate composition under ion irradiation. A depletion of oxygen from the silicate structure by selective sputtering of oxygen from the surface of the grains was observed in both samples. The silicate particles kept their amorphous structure, but the loss of oxygen caused the reduction of ferrous (Fe2+) ions and the formation of iron inclusions in the MgFeSiO4 grains. A few Si inclusions were produced in the iron-free magnesium silicate sample pointing to a much less efficient reduction of Si4+ and formation of metallic Si inclusions. Consequently, ion-induced processing of magnesium-iron silicates can produce grains that are very similar to the glassy grains with embedded metals and sulfides frequently observed in interplanetary dust particles and meteorites. The metallic iron inclusions are strong absorbers in the NIR range and therefore a ubiquitous requirement to increase the temperature of silicate dust grains in IR-dominated astrophysical environments such as circumstellar shells or protoplanetary disks.

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