Pele’s hairs and exotic multiply twinned graphite closed-shell microcrystals in meteoritic dust of Chelyabinsk superbolideOPEN ACCESS 

S. Taskaev, K. Skokov, V. Khovaylo, W. Donner, T. Faske, A. Dudorov, N. Gorkavyi, G. Savosteenko, A. Dyakonov, W. Baek, A. Kuklin, P. Avramov, O. Gutfleisch

Submitted 20 May, 2019


“When a space body enters Earth’s atmosphere, its surface is exposed to high pressure and temperatures. The airflow tears off small droplets from the meteoroid forming a cloud of meteorite dust. Can new materials be synthesized in these unique conditions (high temperature, pressure, gaseous atmosphere, catalysts)? As a rule, meteoritic dust dissipates in the atmosphere without a trace or is mixed with terrestrial soil. The Chelyabinsk superbolide, the biggest in the 21st century, which exploded on February 15, 2013 above snowy fields of the Southern Urals, was an exception. Two new types of materials were found during an in-depth study: thread-like structures that were not previously associated with meteorite falls and unique carbon crystals with a size of several micrometers that were not observed before. The nature of formation of thread-like structures is fully similar to the nature of formation of Pele’s hair during eruptions of terrestrial volcanos. Multiple twin growth mechanism of formation of closed shell graphite microcrystals was proposed based on DFT and classical/ab initio MD simulations. It was found that among several possible embryo carbon nanoclusters the C60 fullerene and polyhexacyclooctadecane -C18H12- may be the main suspects responsible for the formation of closed shell quasi-spherical and hexagonal rod graphite microcrystals. “