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Cosmic Dust Synthesized in Reducing Environments

  • B. N. Khare (a1) and Carl Sagan (a1)

Extract

A variety of complex dark brown organic solids called tholins have been produced from a mixture of cosmically abundant gases upon irradiation with ultraviolet light or electrical discharges (Sagan and Khare 1979). Such tholins were probably produced in the primitive solar nebula that contributed to the present composition of carbonaceous chondrites, comets, interstellar grains and gas. Spark tholins produced from approximately equimolar mixtures of CH4 and NH3, with 2.6% H20 exhibit 50% thermal dissociation temperature of about 900°C. Sequential and non-sequential pyrolysis followed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry are employed to study both UV (Khare et al. 1978) and spark tholins. Typical pyrolyzates of spark tholins include alkanes, alkenes, aromatic hydrocarbon, abundant nitriles, pyrroles, pyrazines and alkylbenzenes. Organic molecules uncovered by microwave line spectroscopy of the interstellar gas are plausibly derived as spallation products of interstellar tholins comparable to the origin we propose for cometary nitriles and aldehydes as the spallation products of the cometary tholins. Spark tholins are highly insulating. Their measured resistivity is 71.4 × 108 ohms-cm and does not change up to a pressure of 105 bars.

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References

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Khare, B.N., Sagan, Carl, Bandurski, E.L. and Nagy, B.: 1978, Science 199, p. 1199.
Sagan, Carl and Khare, B.N.: 1979, Nature 277, pp. 102107.

Cosmic Dust Synthesized in Reducing Environments

  • B. N. Khare (a1) and Carl Sagan (a1)

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