Impact of Radiogenic Heating on the Formation Conditions of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

O. Mousis1 et al. (>10)
The Astrophysical Journal Letters 839 L4 Link to Article []
1Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille) UMR 7326, F-13388, Marseille, France

Because of the high fraction of refractory material present in comets, the heat produced by the radiogenic decay of elements such as aluminum and iron can be high enough to induce the loss of ultravolatile species such as nitrogen, argon, or carbon monoxide during their accretion phase in the protosolar nebula (PSN). Here, we investigate how heat generated by the radioactive decay of 26Al and 60Fe influences the formation of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, as a function of its accretion time and the size of its parent body. We use an existing thermal evolution model that includes various phase transitions, heat transfer in the ice-dust matrix, and gas diffusion throughout the porous material, based on thermodynamic parameters derived from Rosetta observations. Two possibilities are considered: either, to account for its bilobate shape, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was assembled from two primordial ~2 km sized planetesimals, or it resulted from the disruption of a larger parent body with a size corresponding to that of comet Hale–Bopp (~70 km). To fully preserve its volatile content, we find that either 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s formation was delayed between ~2.2 and 7.7 Myr after that of Ca–Al-rich Inclusions in the PSN or the comet’s accretion phase took place over the entire time interval, depending on the primordial size of its parent body and the composition of the icy material considered. Our calculations suggest that the formation of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is consistent with both its accretion from primordial building blocks formed in the nebula or from debris issued from the disruption of a Hale–Bopp-like body.

Is There a Temperature Limit in Planet Formation at 1000 K?

Tunahan Demirci1, Jens Teiser1, Tobias Steinpilz1, Joachim Landers1,2, Soma Salamon1,2, Heiko Wende1,2, and Gerhard Wurm1
Astrophysical Journal 846, 48 Link to Article []
1Faculty of Physics, University of Duisburg-Essen, Lotharstr. 1, D-47057 Duisburg, Germany
2Center for Nanointegration Duisburg-Essen (CENIDE), University of Duisburg-Essen, Carl-Benz-Str. 199, D-47057 Duisburg, Germany

Dust drifting inward in protoplanetary disks is subject to increasing temperatures. In laboratory experiments, we tempered basaltic dust between 873 K and 1273 K and find that the dust grains change in size and composition. These modifications influence the outcome of self-consistent low speed aggregation experiments showing a transition temperature of 1000 K. Dust tempered at lower temperatures grows to a maximum aggregate size of 2.02 ± 0.06 mm, which is 1.49 ± 0.08 times the value for dust tempered at higher temperatures. A similar size ratio of 1.75 ± 0.16 results for a different set of collision velocities. This transition temperature is in agreement with orbit temperatures deduced for observed extrasolar planets. Most terrestrial planets are observed at positions equivalent to less than 1000 K. Dust aggregation on the millimeter-scale at elevated temperatures might therefore be a key factor for terrestrial planet formation.

Role of Surface Chemistry in Grain Adhesion and Dissipation during Collisions of Silica Nanograins

Abrar H. Quadery1, Baochi D. Doan2, William C. Tucker1, Adrienne R. Dove1, and Patrick K. Schelling1,3
Astrophysical Journal 844, 105 Link to Article []
1Department of Physics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816-2385, USA
2Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816-2385, USA
3Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32804, USA

The accretion of dust grains to form larger objects, including planetesimals, is a central problem in planetary science. It is generally thought that weak van der Waals interactions play a role in accretion at small scales where gravitational attraction is negligible. However, it is likely that in many instances, chemical reactions also play an important role, and the particular chemical environment on the surface could determine the outcomes of dust grain collisions. Using atomic-scale simulations of collisional aggregation of nanometer-sized silica (SiO2) grains, we demonstrate that surface hydroxylation can act to weaken adhesive forces and reduce the ability of mineral grains to dissipate kinetic energy during collisions. The results suggest that surface passivation of dangling bonds, which generally is quite complete in an Earth environment, should tend to render mineral grains less likely to adhere during collisions. It is shown that during collisions, interactions scale with interparticle distance in a manner consistent with the formation of strong chemical bonds. Finally, it is demonstrated that in the case of collisions of nanometer-scale grains with no angular momentum, adhesion can occur even for relative velocities of several kilometers per second. These results have significant implications for early planet formation processes, potentially expanding the range of collision velocities over which larger dust grains can form.

The Gaseous Phase as a Probe of the Astrophysical Solid Phase Chemistry

Ninette Abou Mrad, Fabrice Duvernay, Robin Isnard, Thierry Chiavassa, and Grégoire Danger
Astrophysical Journal 846, 124 Link to Article []
Aix-Marseille Université, PIIM UMR-CNRS 7345, F-13397 Marseille, France

In support of space missions and spectroscopic observations, laboratory experiments on ice analogs enable a better understanding of organic matter formation and evolution in astrophysical environments. Herein, we report the monitoring of the gaseous phase of processed astrophysical ice analogs to determine if the gaseous phase can elucidate the chemical mechanisms and dominant reaction pathways occurring in the solid ice subjected to vacuum ultra-violet (VUV) irradiation at low temperature and subsequently warmed. Simple (CH3OH), binary (H2O:CH3OH, CH3OH:NH3), and ternary ice analogs (H2O:CH3OH:NH3) were VUV-processed and warmed. The evolution of volatile organic compounds in the gaseous phase shows a direct link between their relative abundances in the gaseous phase, and the radical and thermal chemistries modifying the initial ice composition. The correlation between the gaseous and solid phases may play a crucial role in deciphering the organic composition of astrophysical objects. As an example, possible solid compositions of the comet Lovejoy are suggested using the abundances of organics in its comae.

13CO/C18O Gradients across the Disks of Nearby Spiral Galaxies

María J. Jiménez-Donaire11 et al. (>10)
The Astrophysical Journal Letters 836 L29 Link to Article []
1Institut für theoretische Astrophysik, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Albert-Ueberle Str. 2, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany

We use the IRAM Large Program EMPIRE and new high-resolution ALMA data to measure 13CO(1-0)/C18O(1-0) intensity ratios across nine nearby spiral galaxies. These isotopologues of 12CO are typically optically thin across most of the area in galaxy disks, and this ratio allows us to gauge their relative abundance due to chemistry or stellar nucleosynthesis effects. Resolved 13CO/C18O gradients across normal galaxies have been rare due to the faintness of these lines. We find a mean 13CO/C18O ratio of 6.0 ± 0.9 for the central regions of our galaxies. This agrees well with results in the Milky Way, but differs from results for starburst galaxies (3.4 ± 0.9) and ultraluminous infrared galaxies (1.1 ± 0.4). In our sample, the 13CO/C18O ratio consistently increases with increasing galactocentric radius and decreases with increasing star formation rate surface density. These trends could be explained if the isotopic abundances are altered by fractionation; the sense of the trends also agrees with those expected for carbon and oxygen isotopic abundance variations due to selective enrichment by massive stars.

Ejection of Chondrules from Fluffy Matrices

Sota Arakawa
Astrophysical Journal 846, 2 Link to Article []
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro, Tokyo, 152-8551, Japan

Chondritic meteorites primarily contain millimeter-sized spherical objects, chondrules; however, the co-accretion process of chondrules and matrix grains is not yet understood. In this study, we investigate the ejection process of chondrules via collisions of fluffy aggregates composed of chondrules and matrices. We reveal that fluffy aggregates cannot grow into planetesimals without losing chondrules if we assume that the chondrite parent bodies are formed via direct aggregation of similar-sized aggregates. Therefore, an examination of other growth pathways is necessary to explain the formation of rocky planetesimals in our solar system.

The Effects of Mg/Si on the Exoplanetary Refractory Oxygen Budget

Cayman T. Unterborn1,3 and Wendy R. Panero2
Astrophysical Journal 845, 61 Link to Article []
1School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
2School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
3SESE Exploration Fellow.

Solar photospheric abundances of refractory elements mirror the Earth’s to within ~10 mol% when normalized to the dominant terrestrial-planet-forming elements Mg, Si, and Fe. This allows for the adoption of solar composition as an order-of-magnitude proxy for Earth’s. It is not known, however, the degree to which this mirroring of stellar and terrestrial planet abundances holds true for other star–planet systems without determination of the composition of initial planetesimals via condensation sequence calculations and post condensation processes. We present the open-source Arbitrary Composition Condensation Sequence calculator (ArCCoS) to assess how the elemental composition of a parent star affects that of the planet-building material, including the extent of oxidation within the planetesimals. We demonstrate the utility of ArCCoS by showing how variations in the abundance of the stellar refractory elements Mg and Si affect the condensation of oxygen, a controlling factor in the relative proportions of planetary core and silicate mantle material. This thereby removes significant degeneracy in the interpretation of the structures of exoplanets, as well as provides observational tests for the validity of this model.