The University of Arizona

Do comets have chondrules and CAIs? Evidence from the Leonid meteors

Timothy D. Swindle, Humberto Campins


Chondrules, silicate spheres typically 0.1 to 1 mm in diameter, are the most abundant constituents in the most common meteorites falling on Earth, the ordinary chondrites. In addition, many primitive meteorites have calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs). The question of whether comets have chondrules or CAIs is relevant to understanding what the interior of a comet is like and what a cometary meteorite might be like. In addition, one prominent model for forming chondrules and CAIs, the X-wind model, predicts their presence in comets, while most other models do not. At present, the best way to search for chondrules and CAIs in comets is through meteor showers derived from comets, in particular, the Leonid meteor shower. Evidence potentially could be found in the overall mass distribution of the shower, in chemical analyses of meteors, or in light curves. There is no evidence for a chondrule abundance in the Leonid meteors similar to that found in chondritic meteorites. There is intriguing evidence for chondrule- or CAI-sized objects in a small fraction of the light curves, but further work is required to generate a definitive test.


40Ar-39Ar dating;Aqueous alteration;Orvinio;Nobles gases;Mars meteorites

Full Text: