The University of Arizona

Chemical composition and heterogeneity of Wild 2 cometary particles determined by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence

A. LANZIROTTI, S. R. SUTTON, G. J. FLYNN, M. NEWVILLE, W. RAO

Abstract


Seven cometary dust particle tracks in Stardust aerogel were studied using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence methods at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NY) and Advanced Photon Source (IL). Elemental maps were produced for each of the tracks and elemental abundances for 156 individual fragments within these tracks were determined. Whole-track elemental abundances were inferred by summing the elemental masses for the fragments in each track and scaling by the ratio of total Fe in the map and total Fe in the fragments. In general, whole-track and terminal-particle abundances are dissimilar. The total Fe masses ranged from 4 to 2200 pg, corresponding to impactors in the size range of 2.7 to 22 μm if Fe abundances are equal to the chondritic value. Systematic variations in element abundance with fragment distance from the aerogel entry point were generally subtle but were pronounced in one track (C2115,19). In this track, Zn/Fe was about three orders of magnitude higher at the top, Cr/Fe was two orders of magnitude higher at the bottom, and S was relatively uniform. Compositional convergence data showed that typically analysis of ~10 fragments was needed to reach convergent whole-track abundance. Zinc was an exception, showing nonconvergent profiles and steps due to the presence of rare, high-Zn fragments. The resulting wholetrack elemental abundances show diverse patterns that are generally chondritic (i.e., within a factor of three of CI abundances) with some exceptions, notably depletions in S and enrichments in the moderately volatile elements Cu, Zn, and Ga. Enrichments in large ion lithophile elements relative to Fe were observed in one track. Correlation matrices showed several strong elemental correlations, notably selenium associated with sulfur (sulfides), a ubiquitous correlation of the first-row transition metals Cr, Mn, and Fe attributed to the presence of pyroxene, and enrichments of gallium associated with calcium, likely affiliated with Mg-Al glass.

Keywords


cosmochemistry;comets chemical composition;Stardust mission

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