Graphite Whiskers in CV3 Meteorites

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Science  04 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5872, pp. 91-93
DOI: 10.1126/science.1153578

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Graphite whiskers (GWs), an allotrope of carbon that has been proposed to occur in space, have been discovered in three CV-type carbonaceous chondrites via Raman imaging and electron microscopy. The GWs are associated with high-temperature calcium-aluminum inclusion (CAI) rims and interiors, with the rim of a dark inclusion, and within an inclusion inside an unusual chondrule that bears mineralogy and texture indicative of high-temperature processing. Current understanding of CAI formation places their condensation, and that of associated GWs, relatively close to the Sun and early in the condensation sequence of protoplanetary disk materials. If this is the case, then it is a possibility that GWs are expelled from any young solar system early in its history, thus populating interstellar space with diffuse GWs. Graphite whiskers have been postulated to play a role in the near-infrared (near-IR) dimming of type Ia supernovae, as well as in the thermalization of both the cosmic IR and microwave background and in galactic center dimming between 3 and 9 micrometers. Our observations, along with the further possibility that GWs could be manufactured during supernovae, suggest that GWs may have substantial effects in observational astronomy.

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