Special Reports

Isotopic Compositions of Cometary Matter Returned by Stardust

Science  15 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5806, pp. 1724-1728
DOI: 10.1126/science.1135992

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Abstract

Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopic compositions are heterogeneous among comet 81P/Wild 2 particle fragments; however, extreme isotopic anomalies are rare, indicating that the comet is not a pristine aggregate of presolar materials. Nonterrestrial nitrogen and neon isotope ratios suggest that indigenous organic matter and highly volatile materials were successfully collected. Except for a single 17O-enriched circumstellar stardust grain, silicate and oxide minerals have oxygen isotopic compositions consistent with solar system origin. One refractory grain is 16O-enriched, like refractory inclusions in meteorites, suggesting that Wild 2 contains material formed at high temperature in the inner solar system and transported to the Kuiper belt before comet accretion.

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