High reactivity of condensed amorphous silicate and implication for chondrites

Morgano Maxime, Le Guillou Corentin, Leroux Hugues, Marinova Maya, Dohmen Ralf

In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 10 June 2023


“Amorphous silicates are abundant in extraterrestrial objects such as interplanetary dust particles and primitive chondrites. They are thought to be formed through condensation and possibly later exposed to thermal processes in the nebula before being accreted within an asteroid and/or comet.

We aim to constrain the conditions that prevailed during thermal events in the nebula, through experimental work on the chemical and structural evolution of condensed amorphous silicate.

We conducted coupled condensation and heating experiments of Fe-Mg-silicate thin films using the pulsed laser deposition technique. We compared samples condensed at room temperature and annealed in a second step with samples directly condensed on heated substrate, at 450 °C and 700 °C.

For both processes, at temperature as low as 450 °C, iron-rich nanoparticles and Mg-rich domains form, evidencing the high reactivity of the condensed amorphous silicate. This reactivity was found to be even higher for the process of condensation on heated substrate. We also evidence the persistence of amorphous silicate up to 700 °C, in spite of the chemical evolution and the demixion into MgO and SiO2 domains.

These results imply that amorphous silicates condensed from a plasma (and possibly from any process producing atoms in an excited state) are more reactive than quenched glasses of similar composition. In complement to high temperature events that occurred at the time of solar system formation and that formed chondrules for instance, this work emphasizes the importance of mild heating on dust evolution before accretion within parent(s) body(ies). It helps to place chemical and structural constraints on the thermal evolution of amorphous silicate found in primitive chondrites: i) iron segregation as metallic nanoparticles can be generated within a silicate groundmass at temperature as low as 450 °C (and possibly even below) ii) iron-rich chondritic amorphous silicate can persist up to 700 °C.”