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We report a systematic spectroscopical investigation of three plagioclase particles (RB-QD04-0022, RA-QD02-0025-01, and RA-QD02-0025-02) returned by the Hayabusa spacecraft from the asteroid Itokawa, by means of scanning electron microscopy, cathodoluminescence microscopy/spectroscopy, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The cathodoluminescence properties are used to evaluate the crystallization effects and the degree of space weathering processes, especially the shock-wave history of Itokawa. They provide new insights regarding spectral changes of asteroidal bodies due to space weathering processes. The cathodoluminescence spectra of the plagioclase particles from Itokawa show a defect-related broad band centered at around 450 nm, with a shoulder peak at 425 nm in the blue region, but there are no Mn- or Fe-related emission peaks. The absence of these crystal field-related activators indicates that the plagioclase was formed during thermal metamorphism at subsolidus temperature and extreme low oxygen fugacity. Luminescence characteristics of the selected samples do not show any signatures of the shock-induced microstructures or amorphization, indicating that these plagioclase samples suffered no (or low-shock pressure regime) shock metamorphism. Cathodoluminescence can play a key role as a powerful tool to determine mineralogy of fine-grained astromaterials.
Among presolar SiC grains found in the Murchison carbonaceous meteorites (average size less than 0.5 μm) are very large grains, ranging in size up to 50 μm. We interpret 6Li excesses measured in eight of these grains as being the result of spallation reactions by Galactic cosmic rays during the time the grains spent in the interstellar medium before their incorporation into the meteorite. Derived interstellar exposure ages range from 40 My to 1 Gy, the highest values being consistent with theoretical expectations of interstellar grain lifetimes. Although six grains have almost identical C and Si isotopic compositions, their exposure ages are very different. This observation, combined with low trace element contents, and unusual grain sizes, raises fundamental questions about their stellar sources.
With the ATNF Mopra telescope we are performing a survey in the 12CO(1–0) line to map the molecular gas in the Large Magellanic Cloud. For some regions we also obtained interferometric maps of the high density gas tracers HCO+ and HCN with the Australia Telescope Compact Array. Here we discuss the properties of the elongated molecular complex that stretches about 2 kpc southward from 30 Doradus. Our data suggest that the complex, which we refer to as the ‘molecular ridge’, is not a coherent feature but consists of many smaller clumps that share the same formation history. Likely triggers of molecular-cloud formation are shocks and shearing forces that are present in the surrounding south-eastern Hi overdensity region, a region influenced by strong ram pressure and tidal forces. The molecular ridge is at the western edge of the the overdensity region where a bifurcated velocity structure transitions into a single disk velocity component. We find that the 12CO(1–0) and Hi emission peaks in the molecular ridge are typically near each other but never coincide. A likely explanation is the conversion of warmer, low-opacity Hi to colder, high-opacity Hi from which H2 subsequently forms. On smaller scales we find that very dense molecular gas, as traced by interferometric HCO+ and HCN maps, is associated with star formation along shocked filaments and with rims of expanding shell-like structures, both created by feedback from massive stars.
Knowledge about the age of presolar grains provides important insights into Galactic chemical evolution and the dynamics of grain formation and destruction processes in the Galaxy. Determination from the abundance of cosmic ray interaction products is straightforward, but in the past has suffered from uncertainties in correcting for recoil losses of spallation products. The problem is less serious in a class of large (tens of μm) grains. We describe the correction procedure and summarise results for He and Ne ages of presolar SiC ‘Jumbo’ grains that range from close to zero to ∼850 Myr, with the majority being less than 200 Myr. We also discuss the possibility of extending our approach to the majority of smaller SiC grains and explore possible contributions from trapping of cosmic rays.
Color centers in selected micro- and nanodiamond samples were investigated by cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy and spectroscopy at 298 K [room temperature (RT)] and 77 K [liquid-nitrogen temperature (LNT)] to assess the value of the technique for astrophysics. Nanodiamonds from meteorites were compared with synthetic diamonds made with different processes involving distinct synthesis mechanisms (chemical vapor deposition, static high pressure high temperature, detonation). A CL emission peak centered at around 540 nm at 77 K was observed in almost all of the selected diamond samples and is assigned to the dislocation defect with nitrogen atoms. Additional peaks were identified at 387 and 452 nm, which are related to the vacancy defect. In general, peak intensity at LNT at the samples was increased in comparison to RT. The results indicate a clear temperature—dependence of the spectroscopic properties of diamond. This suggests the method is a useful tool in laboratory astrophysics.
We have studied the Raman spectroscopic signatures of nanodiamonds from the Allende meteorite in which some portions must be of presolar origin as indicated by the isotopic compositions of various trace elements. The spectra of the meteoritic nanodiamond show a narrow peak at 1326 cm−1 and a broad band at 1590 cm−1. Compared to the intensities of these peaks, the background fluorescence is relatively high. A significant frequency shift from 1332 to 1326 cm−1, peak broadening, and appearance of a new peak at 1590 cm−1 might be due to shock effects during formation of the diamond grains. Such changes may have several origins: an increase in bond length, a change in the electron density function or charge transfer, or a combination of these factors. However, Raman spectroscopy alone does not allow distinguishing between a shock origin of the nanodiamonds and formation by a CVD process as is favored by most workers.
Small amounts of pre-solar grains have survived in the matrices of primitive meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. Their detailed study in the laboratory with modern analytical tools provides highly accurate and detailed information with regard to stellar nucleosynthesis and evolution, grain formation in stellar atmospheres, and Galactic Chemical Evolution. Their survival puts constraints on conditions they were exposed to in the interstellar medium and in the Early Solar System.
We obtained X-ray observations for a sample of eight nearby dwarf starburst galaxies from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Five galaxies of our sample show extended (size: 1-10 kpc), diffuse X-ray emission which can be attributed to a hot thermal plasma. This phase of the interstellar medium purportedly drives the expansion of supergiant shells. A comparison of the derived gas parameters with theoretical models reveals that the hot gas in principle is capable to escape from the gravitational potential of the host galaxy. However, the outflows appear to be contained in those cases where an extended envelope or massive tidal features of neutral gas exist.
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