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Title: THE DUAL ORIGIN OF THE NITROGEN DEFICIENCY IN COMETS: SELECTIVE VOLATILE TRAPPING IN THE NEBULA AND POSTACCRETION RADIOGENIC HEATING

Abstract

We propose a scenario that explains the apparent nitrogen deficiency in comets in a way that is consistent with the fact that the surfaces of Pluto and Triton are dominated by nitrogen-rich ice. We use a statistical thermodynamic model to investigate the composition of the successive multiple guest clathrates that may have formed during the cooling of the primordial nebula from the most abundant volatiles present in the gas phase. These clathrates agglomerated with the other ices (pure condensates or stoichiometric hydrates) and formed the building blocks of comets. We report that molecular nitrogen is a poor clathrate former, when we consider a plausible gas-phase composition of the primordial nebula. This implies that its trapping into cometesimals requires a low disk temperature ({approx}20 K) in order to allow the formation of its pure condensate. We find that it is possible to explain the lack of molecular nitrogen in comets as a consequence of their postformation internal heating engendered by the decay of short-lived radiogenic nuclides. This scenario is found to be consistent with the presence of nitrogen-rich ice covers on Pluto and Triton. Our model predicts that comets should present xenon-to-water and krypton-to-water ratios close to solar xenon-to-oxygen and krypton-to-oxygenmore » ratios, respectively. In contrast, the argon-to-water ratio is predicted to be depleted by a factor of {approx}300 in comets compared to solar argon-to-oxygen, as a consequence of poor trapping efficiency and radiogenic heating.« less

Authors:
; ;  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Universite de Franche-Comte, Institut UTINAM, CNRS/INSU, UMR 6213, Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Besancon, F-25030 Besancon Cedex (France)
  2. Department of Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (United States)
  3. Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Space Sciences Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (United States)
  4. University of Texas McDonald Observatory, Austin, TX 78712 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22092183
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Astrophysical Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 757; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Journal ID: ISSN 0004-637X
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
74 ATOMIC AND MOLECULAR PHYSICS; 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ARGON; ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; COMETS; HYDRATES; ICE; KRYPTON; NEBULAE; NITROGEN; OXYGEN; PLUTO PLANET; PROTOPLANETS; SURFACES; THERMODYNAMICS; TRAPPING; VOLATILITY; WATER; XENON

Citation Formats

Mousis, Olivier, Petit, Jean-Marc, Rousselot, Philippe, Guilbert-Lepoutre, Aurelie, Lunine, Jonathan I., Cochran, Anita L., and Waite, J. Hunter, E-mail: olivier.mousis@obs-besancon.fr. THE DUAL ORIGIN OF THE NITROGEN DEFICIENCY IN COMETS: SELECTIVE VOLATILE TRAPPING IN THE NEBULA AND POSTACCRETION RADIOGENIC HEATING. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/146.
Mousis, Olivier, Petit, Jean-Marc, Rousselot, Philippe, Guilbert-Lepoutre, Aurelie, Lunine, Jonathan I., Cochran, Anita L., & Waite, J. Hunter, E-mail: olivier.mousis@obs-besancon.fr. THE DUAL ORIGIN OF THE NITROGEN DEFICIENCY IN COMETS: SELECTIVE VOLATILE TRAPPING IN THE NEBULA AND POSTACCRETION RADIOGENIC HEATING. United States. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/146
Mousis, Olivier, Petit, Jean-Marc, Rousselot, Philippe, Guilbert-Lepoutre, Aurelie, Lunine, Jonathan I., Cochran, Anita L., and Waite, J. Hunter, E-mail: olivier.mousis@obs-besancon.fr. Mon . "THE DUAL ORIGIN OF THE NITROGEN DEFICIENCY IN COMETS: SELECTIVE VOLATILE TRAPPING IN THE NEBULA AND POSTACCRETION RADIOGENIC HEATING". United States. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/146.
@article{osti_22092183,
title = {THE DUAL ORIGIN OF THE NITROGEN DEFICIENCY IN COMETS: SELECTIVE VOLATILE TRAPPING IN THE NEBULA AND POSTACCRETION RADIOGENIC HEATING},
author = {Mousis, Olivier and Petit, Jean-Marc and Rousselot, Philippe and Guilbert-Lepoutre, Aurelie and Lunine, Jonathan I. and Cochran, Anita L. and Waite, J. Hunter, E-mail: olivier.mousis@obs-besancon.fr},
abstractNote = {We propose a scenario that explains the apparent nitrogen deficiency in comets in a way that is consistent with the fact that the surfaces of Pluto and Triton are dominated by nitrogen-rich ice. We use a statistical thermodynamic model to investigate the composition of the successive multiple guest clathrates that may have formed during the cooling of the primordial nebula from the most abundant volatiles present in the gas phase. These clathrates agglomerated with the other ices (pure condensates or stoichiometric hydrates) and formed the building blocks of comets. We report that molecular nitrogen is a poor clathrate former, when we consider a plausible gas-phase composition of the primordial nebula. This implies that its trapping into cometesimals requires a low disk temperature ({approx}20 K) in order to allow the formation of its pure condensate. We find that it is possible to explain the lack of molecular nitrogen in comets as a consequence of their postformation internal heating engendered by the decay of short-lived radiogenic nuclides. This scenario is found to be consistent with the presence of nitrogen-rich ice covers on Pluto and Triton. Our model predicts that comets should present xenon-to-water and krypton-to-water ratios close to solar xenon-to-oxygen and krypton-to-oxygen ratios, respectively. In contrast, the argon-to-water ratio is predicted to be depleted by a factor of {approx}300 in comets compared to solar argon-to-oxygen, as a consequence of poor trapping efficiency and radiogenic heating.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/146},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/22092183}, journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
issn = {0004-637X},
number = 2,
volume = 757,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {10}
}