Rocky Cometary Particulates: Their Elemental, Isotopic and Mineralogical Ingredients
Author: Jessberger, Elmar
Source: Space Science Reviews, Volume 90, Numbers 1-2, October 1999 , pp. 91-97(7)
Abstract:The determination of the chemical composition of solid cometary dust particles was one of the prime objectives of the three missions to Comet Halley in 1986. The dust analysis was performed by time-of-flight mass-spectrometry. Within the experimental uncertainty the mean abundances of the rock-forming elements in cometary dust particles are comparable to their abundances in CI-chondrites and in the solar photosphere, i.e. they are cosmic. H, C, and N, on the other hand, in cometary dust are significantly more abundant than in CI-chondrites, approach solar abundances, are to some extent related to O, and reside in an omnipresent refractory organic component dubbed CHON. Element variations between individual dust grains are characterized by correlations of Mg, Si, and O, and to a lesser extent of Fe and S. From particle-to-particle variations of the rock forming elements information on the mineralogy of cometary dust can be obtained. Cluster analysis revealed certain groups that partly match the classifications of stratospheric interplanetary dust particles. About half of Halley's analyzed particles are characterized by anhydrous Fe-poor Mg-silicates, Fe-sulfides, and rarely Fe metal. The Fe-poor Mg-silicates link Halley's dust to that of Hale-Bopp as shown by recent IR observations. No significant deviation from normal of the isotopic composition of the elements is unequivocally present with the notable exception carbon: 12C-rich grains with 12C/13C-ratios up to ≍ 5,000 link cometary dust to presolar circumstellar grains identified in certain chondrites.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1, 1999