Interstellar Carbon in Meteorites

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Science  22 Apr 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4595, pp. 406-410
DOI: 10.1126/science.220.4595.406


The Murchison and Allende chondrites contain up to 5 parts per million carbon that is enriched in carbon-13 by up to + 1100 per mil (the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 is approximately 42, compared to 88 to 93 for terrestrial carbon). This "heavy" carbon is associated with neon-22 and with anomalous krypton and xenon showing the signature of the s-process (neutron capture on a slow time scale). It apparently represents interstellar grains ejected from late-type stars. A second anomalous xenon component ("CCFXe") is associated with a distinctive, light carbon (depleted in carbon-13 by 38 per mil), which, however, falls within the terrestrial range and hence may be of either local or exotic origin.