HYDRATED SILICATES ON EDGEWORTH-KUIPER OBJECTS – PROBABLE WAYS OF FORMATION


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Abstract

Visible-range absorption bands at 600–750 nm were recently detected on two Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt (EKB) objects (Boehnhardt et al., 2002). Most probably the spectral features may be attributed to hydrated silicates originated in the bodies. We consider possibilities for silicate dressing and silicate aqueous alteration within them. According to present models of the protoplanetary disk, the temperatures and pressures at the EKB distances (30–50 AU) at the time of formation of the EKB objects (106 to 108 yr) were very low (15–30 K and 10−9–10−10 bar). At these thermodynamic conditions all volatiles excluding hydrogen, helium and neon were in the solid state. An initial mass fraction of silicates (silicates/(ices + dust)) in EKB parent bodies may be estimated as 0.15–0.30. Decay of the short-lived 26Al in the bodies at the early stage of their evolution and their mutual collisions (at velocities ≥1.5 km s−1) at the subsequent stage were probably two main sources of their heating, sufficient for melting of water ice. Because of the former process, large EKB bodies (R ≥ 100 km) could contain a large amount of liquid water in their interiors for the period of a few 106 yr. Freezing of the internal ocean might have begun at ≈ 5 × 106 yr after formation of the solar nebula (and CAIs). As a result, aqueous alteration of silicates in the bodies could occur. A probable mechanism of silicate dressing was sedimentation of silicates with refractory organics, resulting in accumulation of large silicate-rich cores. Crushing and removing icy covers under collisions and exposing EKB bodies' interiors with increased silicate content could facilitate detection of phyllosilicate spectral features.

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