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Condensation of Carbon in Radioactive Supernova Gas

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Science  26 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5406, pp. 1290-1292
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5406.1290

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Abstract

Chemistry resulting in the formation of large carbon-bearing molecules and dust in the interior of an expanding supernova was explored, and the equations governing their abundances were solved numerically. Carbon dust condenses from initially gaseous carbon and oxygen atoms because energetic electrons produced by radioactivity in the supernova cause dissociation of the carbon monoxide molecules, which would otherwise form and limit the supply of carbon atoms. The resulting free carbon atoms enable carbon dust to grow faster by carbon association than the rate at which the dust can be destroyed by oxidation. The origin of presolar micrometer-sized carbon solids that are found in meteorites is thereby altered.

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