Infoscience

Journal article

Isotopic compositions of cometary matter returned by Stardust

Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopic compositions are heterogeneous among comet 81P/Wild 2 particle fragments; however, extreme isotopic anomalies are rare, indicating that the comet is not a pristine aggregate of presolar materials. Nonterrestrial nitrogen and neon isotope ratios suggest that indigenous organic matter and highly volatile materials were successfully collected. Except for a single O-17-enriched circumstellar stardust grain, silicate and oxide minerals have oxygen isotopic compositions consistent with solar system origin. One refractory grain is O-16-enriched, like refractory inclusions in meteorites, suggesting that Wild 2 contains material formed at high temperature in the inner solar system and transported to the Kuiper belt before comet accretion.

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