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Transport of dust across the Solar System: Constraints on the spatial origin of individual micrometeorites from cosmic-ray exposure

Feige, J.; Airo, A.; Berger, D.; Brückner, D.; Gärtner, A.; Genge, M.; Leya, I.; Habibi Marekani, F.; Hecht, L.; Klingner, N.; Lachner, J.; Li, X.; Merchel, S.; Nissen, J.; Patzer, A. B. C.; Peterson, S.; Schropp, A.; Sager, C.; Suttle, M. D.; Trappitsch, R.; Weinhold, J.


The origin of micrometeorites (MMs) from asteroids and comets is well-established, but the relative contribution from these two classes remains poorly resolved. Likewise, determining the precise origin of individual micrometeorites is an open challenge. Here, cosmic-ray exposure ages are used to resolve the spatial origins of twelve MMs collected from urban areas and Antarctica. Their 26Al and 10Be concentration, produced during cosmic-ray irradiation in space, were measured by accelerator mass spectrometry. These data are compared to results from a model simulating the transport and irradiation of the MM precursors in space. This model, for the first time, considers a variety of orbits, precursor particle sizes, compositions, and densities and incorporates non-isotropic solar and galactic cosmic-ray flux profiles, depth-dependent production rates, as well as spherical evaporation during atmospheric entry. While the origin for six MMs remains ambiguous, two MMs show a preferential tendency towards an origin in the Inner Solar System (Near Earth Objects to the Asteroid Belt) and four towards an origin in the Outer Solar System (Jupiter Family Comets to the Kuiper Belt). These findings challenge the notion that dust originating from the Outer Solar System is unlikely to survive long-term transport and delivery to the terrestrial planets.

Keywords: micrometeorites; exposure age; 26Al; 10Be; AMS

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