The evolution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons under simulated inner asteroid conditions

1,2Claudia‐Corina Giese,2Inge Loes Ten Kate,2Oliver Plümper,2Helen E. King,3Christoph Lenting,2,4,5Yang Liu,6Alexander G. G. M. Tielens
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13359]
1Leiden Observatory, Faculty of Science, Leiden University, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
2Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, 3584 CD Utrecht, the Netherlands
3Steinmann‐Institut for Geology, Mineralogy und Palaeontology, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany
4Soft Condensed Matter, Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Utrecht University, 3584 CC Utrecht, the Netherlands
5Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre, University of Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA Plymouth, UK
6Leiden Observatory, Faculty of Science, Leiden University, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Large polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are an important component of the interstellar medium. PAHs have been identified in the soluble and insoluble matter of carbonaceous chondrites (CCs). Here, we study the evolution of PAHs under conditions relevant to the interiors of asteroids and compare our results to PAHs observed in CCs. We have performed long‐term and short‐term hydrothermal experiments, in which we exposed PAH‐mineral mixture analogs of meteorites to temperature conditions representative of those predicted for asteroids interiors. Our results show that small PAHs with melting points within the aqueous alteration temperature of CCs form carbonaceous spherules in the presence of water. In this work, we describe the microstructure and morphology of these spherules. We discuss the similarities and differences compared to globules isolated from CCs.

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