First laboratory observation of silica grains from core collapse supernovae

Pierre Haenecour, Xuchao Zhao, Christine Floss, Yangting Lin, Ernst Zinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of two supernova silica (SiO2) grains in the primitive carbonaceous chondrites LaPaZ 031117 and Grove Mountains 021710. Only five presolar silica grains have been previously reported from laboratory measurements but they all exhibit enrichments in 17O relative to solar, indicating origins in the envelopes of asymptotic giant branch stars. The two SiO2 grains identified in this study are characterized by moderate enrichments in 18O relative to solar, indicating that they originated in Type II supernova ejecta. If compared to theoretical models, the oxygen isotopic compositions of these grains can be reproduced by mixing of different supernova zones. While both theoretical models of grain condensation and recent NASA Spitzer Space Telescope observations have suggested the presence of silica in supernova ejecta, no such grains had been identified, until now, in meteorites. The discovery of these two silica grains provides definitive evidence of the condensation of silica dust in supernova ejecta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL17
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • circumstellar matter
  • meteorites, meteors, meteoroids
  • nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances
  • stars: winds, outflows
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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