Trace element depth profiles in presolar silicon carbide grains


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Abstract– We have analyzed eleven presolar SiC grains from the Murchison meteorite using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. The Si isotopic compositions of the grains indicate that they are probably of an AGB star origin. The average abundances of Mg, Fe, Ca, Al, Ti, and V are strongly influenced by their condensation behavior into SiC in circumstellar environments. Depth profiles of Li, B, Mg, Al, K, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, and Fe in the SiC grains show that trace elements are not always homogenously distributed. In approximately half of the SiC grains studied here, the trace element distributions can be explained by condensation processes around the grains’ parent stars. These grains appear to have experienced only minimal processing before their arrival in the presolar molecular cloud, possibly due to short residence times in the interstellar medium. The remaining SiC grains contained elevated abundances of several elements within their outer 200 nm, which is attributed to the implantation of energetic ions accelerated by shockwaves in the interstellar medium. These grains may have spent a longer period of time in this region, hence increasing the probability of them passing through a shockfront. Distinct groups of presolar SiC grains whose residence times in the interstellar medium differ are consistent with previous findings based on noble gas studies, although some grains may also have been shielded from secondary alteration by protective outer mantles.