We investigated three-dimensional structures of comet Wild 2 coma particle impact tracks using synchrotron radiation (SR) X-ray microtomography at SPring-8 to elucidate the nature of comet Wild 2 coma dust particles captured in aerogel by understanding the capture process. All tracks have a similar entrance morphology, indicating a common track formation process near the entrance by impact shock propagation irrespective of impactor materials. Distributions of elements along the tracks were simultaneously measured using SR-XRF. Iron is distributed throughout the tracks, but it tends to concentrate in the terminal grains and at the bottoms of bulbs. Based on these results, we propose an impact track formation process. We estimate the densities of cometary dust particles based on the hypothesis that the kinetic energy of impacting dust particles is proportional to the track volume. The density of 148 cometary dust particles we investigated ranges from 0.80 to 5.96 g cm-3 with an average of 1.01 (±0.25) g cm-3. Moreover, we suggest that less fragile crystalline particles account for approximately 5 vol% (20 wt%) of impacting particles. This value of crystalline particles corresponds to that of chondrules and CAIs, which were transported from the inner region of the solar system to the outer comet-forming region. Our results also suggest the presence of volatile components, such as organic material and perhaps ice, in some bulbous tracks (type-C).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science