Similarities Between Cometary, Meteoritic, and Laboratory Analog Dust: Hints from the Attribution of the 10-micrometer Band
It is well known that the infrared emission of many comets is characterized by a broad feature at 10 micrometers, that has been attributed to a Si-O stretching resonance in amorphous and/or hydrated silicate grains. In the case of comets Halley [1,2], Bradfield  and Levy  two spectral components have been observed: the wide peak centered at 9.8 micrometers and a sharp feature at 11.3 micrometers. This last band has been interpreted with crystalline olivine silicatic grains [1,2,5]. However, recently, it has been pointed out  that the laboratory data frequently used in the fits refer to grains embedded in a matrix, which should produce a significant shift of the peak position, according to Mie computations. We have performed laboratory experiments on various silicatic samples with the perspective of determining their optical properties, to study experimentally the influence of matrix effects, and to use the final spectra to perform comparisons with observations. The samples are four terrestrial materials, olivine forsterite, jadeite pyroxene, andesite feldspar and impactite glass, and two meteoritic samples, chondrite (Zacatecas, Mexico) and pallasite (Atacama, Chile). Fine powders of the bulk materials were obtained by grinding calibrated mass amounts of the various samples in an agata mill. The morphological characterization of the samples was performed by means of S.E.M. (scanning electron microscopy) technique. EDX analysis was also performed to determine elemental composition. IR transmission spectra were obtained by using a double beam spectrophotometer that covers the spectral range 2.5-50 micrometers. The standard pellet technique was used by embedding dust samples in KBr or CsI matrices. For comparison, measurements were also performed by depositing small amounts of dust onto KBr windows. In this last case, dust-matrix interaction should be practically absent as grains are simply sitting onto the matrix. The data obtained from the spectroscopic analysis have allowed us to evidence the following main results. Matrix effects do not appear as relevant as suggested by computations performed by the Mie theory. In particular, the peak shift observed for crystalline olivine is from 11.3 micrometers in CsI (n(sub)o = 1.7) to 11.2 micrometers in vacuum (n(sun)o = 1.0). On the other hand, jadeite and andesite grains present main peaks around 10 micrometers, in contrast to cometary spectra. We can, therefore, conclude that crystalline olivine grains are good candidates to simulate the cometary 11.3 micrometer sharp feature, even when matrix effects are accounted for. The impactite sample presents a main broad band around 9.2 micrometers, due to its mainly amorphous composition. This band could resemble the broad 10 micron cometary band; however, its profile is rather broader than that observed for cometary dust. Concerning the meteoritic samples, both chondrite and pallasite show a well defined main peak at 11.3-11.4 micrometers, comparable to cometary spectra. Again, chondrite band profile is too broad. On the contrary, pallasite appears to be a good candidate to reproduce observations. This result appears reasonable if one considers that the sample is formed by small olivine crystals embedded in a iron matrix. In conclusion, the comparison between the spectra of olivine-rich meteoritic grains and cometary dust could suggest either a common origin of the two classes of materials or, at least, a similarity in the processes experienced by them during past evolution. This result appears very relevant because it could imply that the systematic study in the laboratory of meteoritic materials can provide information about the past history of comets. Acknowledgements: This work was partly supported by ASI, CNR, and MURST 40% and 60%. References:  Bregman J. D. et al. (1987) Astron. Astrophys., 187, 616.  Campins H. and Ryan E. V. (1989) Ap. J., 341, 1059.  Hanner M. S. et al. (1990) Ap. J., 348, 312.  Lynch D. K. et al. (1990) 22nd annual meeting of the division for planetary sciences, Charlottesville, Virginia.  Sandford S. A. and Walker R. M. (1985) Ap. J., 291, 838.  Orofino V. et al. (1993) Astron. Astrophys., submitted.
- Pub Date:
- July 1993
- COSMIC DUST;