An examination of 25 comets tests the chemistry of the early Solar System


A new study has found strong support that the release of gases from cometary molecules it could be the result of composition from the beginning of the solar system.

The results obtained by the doctoral candidate at the University of Central Florida Olga Harrington Pinto were published in The Planetary ScienceJournal.

Measuring the proportion of certain molecules present after cometary outgassing can provide insights into the chemical composition of early solar systems and the physical processing of comets after their formation, says Harrington Pinto. Outgassing occurs when comets, which are small bodies of dust, rock, and ice in the solar system, heat up and begin to release gases.

As part of his thesis research, Harrington Pinto compiled the amounts of water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide from 25 comets to test predictions about the formation and evolution of the solar system.

This allowed almost twice as much carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide data from the comet to be studied. Measurements come from a variety of scientific publications. He carefully combined the data obtained with different telescopes and different research equipment when the measurements were simultaneous and was able to confirm that all data were well calibrated.

“One of the most interesting results is that comets very far from the sun with Oort cloud orbits that have never, or rarely, orbited close to the sun, they produced more CO2 than CO in their coma, while comets that have made many more trips close to the Sun behave in the opposite way,” says Harrington Pinto. it’s a statement. “This has never been seen conclusively before.”

“Interestingly, the data are consistent with predictions that comets that have been hanging very far from the sun in the Oort cloud may have been bombarded by cosmic rays on their surface so much that they created a CO-depleted outer shell,” Harrington Pinto . He says. “Then, after its first or second trip near the sun, this processed outer layer is expelled by the sun, revealing a much more pristine comet composition that releases much more CO.”

The researcher says that the next step for the work is to analyze the first observations of centaurs that her team made with the James Webb Space Telescope to directly measure carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and compare the results with this study.