Timescales for the evolution of oxygen isotope compositions in the solar nebula

James Lyons, E. A. Bergin, F. J. Ciesla, A. M. Davis, Steven Desch, K. Hashizume, J. E. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We review two models for the origin of the calcium-, aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI) oxygen isotope mixing line in the solar nebula: (1) CO self-shielding, and (2) chemical mass-independent fractionation (MIF). We consider the timescales associated with formation of an isotopically anomalous water reservoir derived from CO self-shielding, and also the vertical and radial transport timescales of gas and solids in the nebula. The timescales for chemical MIF are very rapid. CO self-shielding models predict that the Sun has Δ17OSMOW ∼ -20‰ (Clayton, 2002), and chemical mass-independent fractionation models predict Δ17OSMOW ∼0‰. Preliminary Genesis results have been reported by McKeegan et al. (McKeegan K. D., Coath C. D., Heber, V., Jarzebinski G., Kallio A. P., Kunihiro T., Mao P. H. and Burnett D. S. (2008b) The oxygen isotopic composition of captured solar wind: first results from the Genesis. EOS Trans. AGU 89(53), Fall Meet. Suppl., P42A-07 (abstr)) and yield a Δ17OSMOW of ∼ -25‰, consistent with a CO self-shielding scenario. Assuming that subsequent Genesis analyses support the preliminary results, it then remains to determine the relative contributions of CO self-shielding from the X-point, the surface of the solar nebula and the parent molecular cloud. The relative formation ages of chondritic components can be related to several timescales in the self-shielding theories. Most importantly the age difference of ∼1-3 My between CAIs and chondrules is consistent with radial transport from the outer solar nebula (>10 AU) to the meteorite-forming region, which supports both the nebular surface and parent cloud self-shielding scenarios. An elevated radiation field intensity is predicted by the surface shielding model, and yields substantial CO photolysis (∼50%) on timescales of 0.1-1 My. An elevated radiation field is also consistent with the parent cloud model. The elevated radiation intensities may indicate solar nebula birth in a medium to large cluster, and may be consistent with the injection of 60Fe from a nearby supernova and with the photoevaporative truncation of the solar nebula at KBO orbital distances (∼47 AU). CO self-shielding is operative at the X-point even when H2 absorption is included, but it is not yet clear whether the self-shielding signature can be imparted to silicates. A simple analysis of diffusion times shows that oxygen isotope exchange between 16O-depleted nebular H2O and chondrules during chondrule formation events is rapid (∼minutes), but is also expected to be rapid for most components of CAIs, with the exception of spinel. This is consistent with the observation that spinel grains are often the most 16O-rich component of CAIs, but is only broadly consistent with the greater degree of exchange in other CAI components. Preliminary disk model calculations of self-shielding by N2 demonstrate that large δ15N enrichments (∼ +800‰) are possible in HCN formed by reaction of N atoms with organic radicals (e.g., CH2), which may account for 15N-rich hotspots observed in lithic clasts in some carbonaceous chondrites and which lends support to the CO self-shielding model for oxygen isotopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4998-5017
Number of pages20
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Timescales for the evolution of oxygen isotope compositions in the solar nebula'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this