Gas/solid carbon branching ratios in surface-mediated reactions and the incorporation of carbonaceous material into planetesimals.

Nuth, J. A., Johnson, N. M., Ferguson, F. T. and Carayon, A.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12666


“We report the ratio of the initial carbon available as CO that forms gas-phase compounds compared to the fraction that deposits as a carbonaceous solid (the gas/solid branching ratio) as a function of time and temperature for iron, magnetite, and amorphous iron silicate smoke catalysts during surface-mediated reactions in an excess of hydrogen and in the presence of N2. This fraction varies from more than 99% for an amorphous iron silicate smoke at 673 K to less than 40% for a magnetite catalyst at 873 K. The CO not converted into solids primarily forms methane, ethane, water, and CO2, as well as a very wide range of organic molecules at very low concentration. Carbon deposits do not form continuous coatings on the catalytic surfaces, but instead form extremely high surface area per unit volume “filamentous” structures. While these structures will likely form more slowly but over much longer times in protostellar nebulae than in our experiments due to the much lower partial pressure of CO, such fluffy coatings on the surfaces of chondrules or calcium aluminum inclusions could promote grain–grain sticking during low-velocity collisions.”