Sulfur in presolar silicon carbide grains from asymptotic giant branch stars

Hoppe, P., Lodders, K. and Fujiya, W. (2015)

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12449


We studied 14 presolar SiC mainstream grains for C-, Si-, and S-isotopic compositions and S elemental abundances. Ten grains have low levels of S contamination and CI chondrite-normalized S/Si ratios between 2 × 10−5 and 2 × 10−4. All grains have S-isotopic compositions compatible within 2σ of solar values. Their mean S isotope composition deviates from solar by at most a few percent, and is consistent with values observed for the carbon star IRC+10216, believed to be a representative source star of the grains, and the interstellar medium. The isotopic data are also consistent with stellar model predictions of low-mass asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars. In a δ33S versus δ34S plot the data fit along a line with a slope of 1.8 ± 0.7, suggesting imprints from galactic chemical evolution. The observed S abundances are lower than expected from equilibrium condensation of CaS in solid solution with SiC under pressure and temperature conditions inferred from the abundances of more refractory elements in SiC. Calcium to S abundance ratios are generally above unity, contrary to expectations for stoichiometric CaS solution in the grains, possibly due to condensation of CaC2 into SiC. We observed a correlation between Mg and S abundances suggesting solid solution of MgS in SiC. The low abundances of S in mainstream grains support the view that the significantly higher abundances of excess 32S found in some Type AB SiC grains are the result of in situ decay of radioactive 32Si from born-again AGB stars that condensed into AB grains.