Experimental Test of Self-Shielding in Vacuum Ultraviolet Photodissociation of CO

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Science  05 Sep 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5894, pp. 1328-1331
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159178

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Self-shielding of carbon monoxide (CO) within the nebular disk has been proposed as the source of isotopically anomalous oxygen in the solar reservoir and the source of meteoritic oxygen isotopic compositions. A series of CO photodissociation experiments at the Advanced Light Source show that vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photodissociation of CO produces large wavelength-dependent isotopic fractionation. An anomalously enriched atomic oxygen reservoir can thus be generated through CO photodissociation without self-shielding. In the presence of optical self-shielding of VUV light, the fractionation associated with CO dissociation dominates over self-shielding. These results indicate the potential role of photochemistry in early solar system formation and may help in the understanding of oxygen isotopic variations in Genesis solar-wind samples.

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