Hydroxylated Mg-rich Amorphous Silicates: A New Component of the 3.2 μ m Absorption Band of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Mennella, V.; Ciarniello, M.; Raponi, A.; Capaccioni, F.; Filacchione, G.; Suhasaria, T.; Popa, C.; Kappel, D.; Moroz, L.; Vinogradoff, V.; Pommerol, A.; Rousseau, B.; Istiqomah, I.; Bockelee-Morvan, D.; Carlson, R. W.; Pilorget, C. (2020). Hydroxylated Mg-rich Amorphous Silicates: A New Component of the 3.2 μ m Absorption Band of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 897(2), L37. Institute of Physics Publishing IOP 10.3847/2041-8213/ab919e

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The VIRTIS imaging spectrometer on board Rosetta has shown that the nucleus surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko(67P/CG)is characterized by a broad absorption band at around 3.2μm. The feature isubiquitous across the surface and its attribution to(a)specific material(s)has been challenging. In the presentLetter, we report an experimental investigation showing that the interaction of hydrogen atoms with Mg-richamorphous silicates determines the formation of hydroxyl groups. The resulting IR spectrum exhibits a broadfeature around 3.2μm similar to that of comet 67P/CG. Hapke’s radiative transfer model was employed toestimate an upper limit contribution of 65% of hydroxylated silicates to the observed cometary band intensity. Thepresence of a hydroxylated fraction in silicates on the cometary surface would represent an evolutionary linkbetween primitive objects of the solar system and dust in the interstellar medium(ISM), where silicate grains canbe hydroxylated after having interacted with hydrogen atoms. This link is consistent with the detection of thealiphatic organics in 67P/CG that also originate in the ISM.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Pommerol, Antoine


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Institute of Physics Publishing IOP




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

10 Mar 2021 16:50

Last Modified:

10 Mar 2021 16:50

Publisher DOI:






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