Laboratory mid-IR spectra of equilibrated and igneous meteorites. Searching for observables of planetesimal debris

B.L. de Vries, H. Skogby, L.B.F.M. Waters, M. Min

In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 28 October 2017


• We provide new mid-IR transmission spectra of powdered meteorites
• We can spectroscopically recognize and distinguish between different meteorite types
• We could observe meteorite-like debris in extra-solar planetary systems”

“Meteorites contain minerals from Solar System asteroids with different properties (like size, presence of water, core formation). We provide new mid-IR transmission spectra of powdered meteorites to obtain templates of how mid-IR spectra of asteroidal debris would look like. This is essential for interpreting mid-IR spectra of past and future space observatories, like the James Webb Space Telescope. First we present new transmission spectra of powdered ordinary chondrite, pallasite and HED meteorites and then we combine them with already available transmission spectra of chondrites in the literature, giving a total set of 64 transmission spectra. In detail we study the spectral features of minerals in these spectra to obtain measurables used to spectroscopically distinguish between meteorite groups. Being able to differentiate between dust from different meteorite types means we can probe properties of parent bodies, like their size, if they were wet or dry and if they are differentiated (core formation) or not. We show that the transmission spectra of wet and dry chondrites, carbonaceous and ordinary chondrites and achondrite and chondrite meteorites are distinctly different in a way one can distinguish in astronomical mid-IR spectra. Carbonaceous chondrites type < 3 (aqueously altered) show distinct features of hydrated silicates (hydrosilicates) compared to the olivine and pyroxene rich ordinary chondrites (dry and equilibrated meteorites). Also the iron concentration of the olivine in carbonaceous chondrites differs from ordinary chondrites, which can be probed by the wavelength peak position of the olivine spectral features. The transmission spectra of chondrites (not differentiated) are also strongly different from the achondrite HED meteorites (meteorites from differentiated bodies like 4 Vesta), where the latter show much stronger pyroxene signatures. The two observables that spectroscopically separate the different meteorites groups (and thus the different types of parent bodies) are the pyroxene-olivine feature strength ratio and the peak shift of the olivine spectral features due to an increase in the iron concentration of the olivine."