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Chondrules born in plasma? Simulation of gas-grain interaction using plasma arcs with applications to chondrule and cosmic spherule formation

Morlok, A.; Sutton, Y. C.; Braithwaite, N St.J. and Grady, Monica M. (2012). Chondrules born in plasma? Simulation of gas-grain interaction using plasma arcs with applications to chondrule and cosmic spherule formation. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 47(12) pp. 2269–2280.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.12043
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Abstract

We are investigating chondrule formation by nebular shock waves, using hot plasma as an analog of the heated gas produced by a shock wave as it passes through the protoplanetary environment. Precursor material (mainly silicates, plus metal, and sulfide) was dropped through the plasma in a basic experimental set-up designed to simulate gasgrain collisions in an unconstrained spatial environment (i.e., no interaction with furnace walls during formation). These experiments were undertaken in air (at atmospheric pressure), to act as a proof-of-principlecould chondrules, or chondrule-analog objects (CAO), be formed by gasgrain interaction initiated by shock fronts? Our results showed that if accelerating material through a fixed plasma field is a valid simulation of a supersonic shock wave traveling through a cloud of gas and dust, then CAO certainly could be formed by this process. Melting of and mixing between starting materials occurred, indicating temperatures of at least 1266° C (the olivine-feldspar eutectic). The production of CAO with mixed mineralogy from monomineralic starting materials also shows that collisions between particles are an important mechanism within the chondrule formation process, such that dust aggregates are not necessarily required as chondrule precursors. Not surprisingly, there were significant differences between the synthetic CAO and natural chondrules, presumably mainly because of the oxidizing conditions of the experiment. Results also show similarity to features of micrometeorites like cosmic spherules, particularly the dendritic pattern of iron oxide crystallites produced on micrometeorites by oxidation during atmospheric entry and the formation of vesicles by evaporation of sulfides.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2012 The Meteoritical Society
ISSN: 1945-5100
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetST/F003102/1SFTC
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Research Group: Physics
Item ID: 38929
Depositing User: Yvonne Sutton
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2013 17:00
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 10:20
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/38929
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