Extreme Deuterium Excesses in Ultracarbonaceous Micrometeorites from Central Antarctic Snow

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 742-745
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184832

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Primitive interplanetary dust is expected to contain the earliest solar system components, including minerals and organic matter. We have recovered, from central Antarctic snow, ultracarbonaceous micrometeorites whose organic matter contains extreme deuterium (D) excesses (10 to 30 times terrestrial values), extending over hundreds of square micrometers. We identified crystalline minerals embedded in the micrometeorite organic matter, which suggests that this organic matter reservoir could have formed within the solar system itself rather than having direct interstellar heritage. The high D/H ratios, the high organic matter content, and the associated minerals favor an origin from the cold regions of the protoplanetary disk. The masses of the particles range from a few tenths of a microgram to a few micrograms, exceeding by more than an order of magnitude those of the dust fragments from comet 81P/Wild 2 returned by the Stardust mission.

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