The University of Arizona

A refractory inclusion returned by Stardust from comet 81P/Wild 2

S. B. SIMON, D. J. JOSWIAK, H. A. ISHII, J. P. BRADLEY, M. CHI, L. GROSSMAN, J. ALON, D. E. BROWNLEE, S. FALLON, I. D. HUTCHEON, G. MATRAJT, K. D. MCKEEGAN

Abstract


Among the samples returned from comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust spacecraft is a suite of particles from one impact track (Track 25) that are Ca-, Al-rich and FeO-free. We studied three particles from this track that range in size from 5.3 x 3.2 m to 15 x 10 μm. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy show that they consist of very fine-grained (typically from ~0.5 to ~2 μm) Al-rich, Ti-bearing and Ti-free clinopyroxene, Mg-Al spinel and anorthite, with trace amounts of fine perovskite, FeNi metal and osbornite (TiN) grains. In addition to these phases, the terminal particle, named Inti, also contains melilite. All of these phases, with the exception of osbornite, are common in refractory inclusions and are predicted to condense at high temperature from a gas of solar composition. Osbornite, though very rare, has also been found in meteoritic refractory inclusions, and could have formed in a region of the nebula where carbon became enriched relative to oxygen compared to solar composition. Compositions of Ti-pyroxene in Inti are similar, but not identical, to those of fassaite from Allende inclusions. Electron energy loss spectroscopy shows that Ti-rich pyroxene in Inti has Ti3+/Ti4+ within the range of typical meteoritic fassaite, consistent with formation under reducing conditions comparable to those of a system of solar composition. Inti is 16O-rich, with δ18O≈δ17O≈–40‰, like unaltered phases in refractory inclusions and refractory IDPs. With grain sizes, mineralogy, mineral chemistry, and an oxygen isotopic composition like those of refractory inclusions, we conclude that Inti is a refractory inclusion that formed in the inner solar nebula. Identification of a particle that formed in the inner solar system among the comet samples demonstrates that there was transport of materials from the inner to the outer nebula, probably either in a bipolar outflow or by turbulence.

Keywords


Stardust Space mission;Refractory inclusions;early history Solar System;fassaite

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