Photodissociation of CO isotopologues: Models of laboratory experiments and implications for the solar nebula

James Lyons

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13 Scopus citations


CO photodissociation in the solar nebula and/or parent cloud has been proposed to be the mechanism responsible for forming the 16O-poor reservoir of the calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI) mixing line. However, laboratory experiments on CO photolysis found a wavelength dependence in the oxygen isotope ratios of the product O atoms, which was interpreted as proof that CO photolysis was not a viable mechanism. Here, I report photochemical simulations of these experiments using line-by-line CO spectra to identify the origin of the wavelength dependence. At long wavelengths (>105 nm), the line-by-line spectra for isotopic CO can explain the experimental data with a combination of C16O self-shielding and reduced dissociation probabilities for C18O. At short wavelengths, the greater number of diffuse bands increases the importance of mass-dependent fractionation, lowering the slope to below unity. The line-by-line isotopic spectra are then applied to CO photodissociation in a model solar nebula. Three FUV sources are considered (1) HD 303308, an O4 star in Carina; (2) HD 36981, a B5 star in Orion; and (3) TW Hydrae, a T Tauri star of 10 Myr age. Using reduced dissociation probabilities for C18O based on the photolysis experiments yields nebular water slopes approximately 0.95-1.0 for HD 303308 and TW Hya, and approximately 0.8-1.5 for HD 36981. For the central protostar case (TW Hya) with a simplified treatment of the 2-D radiative transfer, slopes approximately 0.95-1.0 are obtained, independent of the C18O dissociation probability. Greatly improved measurements of the C17O and C18O cross sections and dissociation probabilities are in progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-393
Number of pages21
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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