The University of Arizona

Quantitative organic and light-element analysis of comet 81P/Wild 2 particles using C-, N-, and O-μ-XANES

G. D. CODY, H. ADE, C. M. OD. ALEXANDER, T. ARAKI, A. BUTTERWORTH, H. FLECKENSTEIN, G. FLYNN, M. K. GILLES, C. JACOBSEN, A. L. D. KILCOYNE, K. MESSENGER, S. A. SANDFORD, T. TYLISZCZAK, A. J. WESTPHAL, S. WIRICK, H. YABUTA

Abstract


Synchrotron-based soft X-ray micro-analysis was performed on particles extracted from the Stardust aerogel collector in order to obtain detailed organic functional group information on any organic solids captured as part of the Principal Examination suite of analyses for samples from comet 81P/Wild 2. It is observed that cometary organic carbon captured in aerogel is present in a number of different manifestations and often intimately associated with silicates. Carbon X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectra reveal considerable chemical complexity in all of the organic particles studied so far. Universally, the comet 81P/Wild 2 organic particles contain low concentrations of aromatic and/or olefinic carbon relative to aliphatic and heteroatom-containing functional groups, e.g., amide, carboxyl, and alcohol/ethers. N-XANES confirms the presence and assignments of these functional groups. In general, the XANES data record considerable chemical complexity across the range of organic samples currently analyzed. The atomic ratios, N/C and O/C, derived from XANES data reveal a wide range in heteroatom content; in all cases these elemental ratios are higher than that of primitive meteoritic organic matter. The wide range in chemistry, both in elemental abundances and specific organic functional groups, suggests that the comet 81P/Wild 2 organic solids may have multiple origins.

Keywords


Stardust mission;chemical composition of comets;organic matter;Xanes

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