Diversity of the initial rocky planetary building materials at the edge of the solar system

Brownlee, D. E. and Joswiak, D. J.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12804
First published: 9 December 2016


“Asteroids and comets are surviving members of the vast planetesimal population that was distributed across the early solar system. They appear to be a diverse set of bodies but we present evidence from comet samples that the body-to-body diversity of the initial rocky component mix in planetesimals may have declined with distance from the Sun. Laboratory measurements of the minor element Mn in olivine collected from Comet Wild 2 suggests that the micron-sized rocky crystalline contents of this comet formed in numerous inner solar system environments. The results are consistent with a scenario where silicates such as olivine form at incandescent temperatures in multiple environments and then mix as they are transported to distant cold regions where silicates could accrete with ice and organics to form comets. Accreting far from silicate formation regions, many ice-rich planetesimals are likely to have started with similar complex mixtures of diverse rocky components formed in various high-temperature environments. This contrasts with asteroidal meteorite parent bodies whose silicates retain regional properties that give different chondrite classes their distinctive properties.”