Carbon and the formation of reduced chondrules

Harold C. Connolly, Roger H. Hewins, Richard D. Ash, Brigitte Zanda, Gary E. Lofgren, Michèle Bourot-Denise

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71 Scopus citations

Abstract

CHONDRULES are millimetre-sized spheroidal bodies composed mainly of olivine and orthopyroxene, which comprise the dominant fraction of most chondritic meteorites. They are the products of partial melting of aggregates of fine-grained silicates with minor contributions from metals, sulphides and oxides. Although the formation conditions of chondrules are not well understood, these are thought to involve a transient melting event in the solar nebula 1-3. The ubiquity of reduced carbon in interstellar clouds and primitive meteorites implies that it was also present in the early solar nebula, and may thus have been a potential constituent of chondrule pre-cursor material. We describe here experiments in which carbon and magnesian silicate precursor material of primitive chondrule composition are 'flash-heated' together and then crystallized. The resulting material shows many mineralogical features character-istic of natural chondrules, which are not produced in the absence of carbon4-12. Our results suggest not only that carbon was present in the solar nebula, but also that it played a key role in chondrule formation by creating within the melt a reducing environment that was decoupled from the nebula gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-139
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume371
Issue number6493
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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