Chemically Anomalous, Preaccretionally Irradiated Grains in Interplanetary Dust from Comets

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Science  12 Aug 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5174, pp. 925-929
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5174.925


Nonstoichiometric grains with depletions of magnesium and silicon (relative to oxygen) and inclusions of iron-nickel metal and iron-rich sulfides have been identified in interplanetary dust particles from comets. These chemical anomalies accumulate in grains exposed to ionizing radiation. The grains, known as GEMS (glass with embedded metal and sulfides), were irradiated before the accretion of comets, and their inferred exposure ages, submicrometer sizes, and "amorphous" silicate structures are consistent with those of interstellar silicate grains. The measured compositional trends suggest that chemical (as well as isotopic) anomalies can be used to identify presolar interstellar components in primitive meteoritic materials.

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