Refractory materials in comet samples

1D. J. Joswiak, 1D. E. Brownlee, 2A. N. Nguyen, 2S. Messenger
Meteoritics&Planetary Sciences (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1111/maps.12877]
1Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
2Robert M. Walker Laboratory for Space Science, ARES, NASA JSC, Houston, Texas, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Transmission electron microscope examination of more than 250 fragments, >1 μm from comet Wild 2 and a giant cluster interplanetary dust particle (GCP) of probable cometary origin has revealed four new calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), an amoeboid olivine aggregate (AOA), and an additional AOA or Al-rich chondrule (ARC) object. All of the CAIs have concentric mineral structures and are composed of spinel + anorthite cores surrounded by Al,Ti clinopyroxenes and are similar to two previous CAIs discovered in Wild 2. All of the cometary refractory objects are of moderate refractory character. The mineral assemblages, textures, and bulk compositions of the comet CAIs are similar to nodules in fine-grained, spinel-rich inclusions (FGIs) found in primitive chondrites and like the nodules may be nebular condensates that were altered via solid–gas reactions in the solar nebula. Oxygen isotopes collected on one Wild 2 CAI also match FGIs. The lack of the most refractory inclusions in the comet samples may reflect the higher abundances of small moderately refractory CAI nodules that were produced in the nebula and the small sample sizes collected. In the comet samples, approximately 2–3% of all fragments larger than 1 μm, by number, are CAIs and nearly 50% of all bulbous Stardust tracks contain at least one CAI. We estimate that ~0.5 volume % of Wild 2 material and ~1 volume % of GCP is in the form of CAIs. ARCs and AOAs account for <1% of the Wild 2 and GCP grains by number.

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