Poorly graphitized carbon as a new cosmothermometer for primitive extraterrestrial materials

Abstract

The presence of carbon in primitive extraterrestrial materials has long been considered a useful indicator of prevailing geochemical conditions early in the formation of the Solar System. A recent addition to the suite of primitive materials available for study by cosmochemists includes particles collected from the stratosphere called chondritic porous (CP) aggregates1. Carbon-rich CP aggregates are less abundant in stratospheric collections and contain many low-temperature phases (such as layer silicates) as minor components2,3. We describe here the nature of the most abundant carbon phase in a carbon-rich CP aggregate (sample no. W7029* A) collected from the stratosphere as part of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Cosmic Dust Program4. By comparison with experimental and terrestrial studies of poorly graphitized carbon (PGC), we show that the graphitization temperature, or the degree of ordering in the PGC, may provide a useful cosmothermometer for primitive extraterrestrial materials.

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Rietmeijer, F., Mackinnon, I. Poorly graphitized carbon as a new cosmothermometer for primitive extraterrestrial materials. Nature 315, 733–736 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1038/315733a0

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