Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in carbonaceous chondrites can be used as tracers of both pre-accretion and secondary processes

Marceau Lecasble, Laurent Remusat, Jean-Christophe Viennet, Boris Laurent, Sylvain Bernard
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2022.08.039]
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS UMR 7590, IMPMC, Paris, France
Copyright Elsevier

Carbonaceous chondrites contain a diverse suite of more or less soluble compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds are structured around two or more fused benzene rings, and have shown to be detected in various astrophysical environments. The origin of PAHs in carbonaceous chondrites is debated: they may originate from the interstellar medium (ISM) and thus potentially carry information on accretion processes. Alternatively, they may have formed or transformed during secondary processes on parent bodies and thus carry information about aqueous alteration conditions. Here, we investigate the nature, quantity, and isotopic composition of free PAHs in three recently recovered CM chondrites having experienced substantial and distinct degrees of alteration: the CM2.2 Aguas Zarcas, the CM2.0 Mukundpura and the CM1/2 Kolang. All the CMs investigated contain PAHs, with sizes ranging from 2 (naphthalene) to 5 cycles (benzopyrene). The concentration of PAHs is not correlated to the degree of alteration and larger PAHs are also the most depleted in 13C, suggesting an interstellar origin. Yet, the abundance of alkylated PAHs appears correlated to the degree of alteration and all the extracted PAHs are D-depleted, pointing towards hydrogen exchange with water having occurred during aqueous alteration. These combined results suggest that PAHs in CCs likely carry information on both accretion and alteration processes.

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