Probing the early stages of shock-induced chondritic meteorite formation at the mesoscale
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© British Crown Owned 2017/AWE. Chondritic meteorites are fragments of asteroids, the building blocks of planets, that retain a record of primordial processes. Important in their early evolution was impact-driven lithification, where a porous mixture of millimetre-scale chondrule inclusions and sub-micrometre dust was compacted into rock. In this Article, the shock compression of analogue precursor chondrite material was probed using state of the art dynamic X-ray radiography. Spatially-resolved shock and particle velocities, and shock front thicknesses were extracted directly from the radiographs, representing a greatly enhanced scope of data than could be measured in surface-based studies. A statistical interpretation of the measured velocities showed that mean values were in good agreement with those predicted using continuum-level modelling and mixture theory. However, the distribution and evolution of wave velocities and wavefront thicknesses were observed to be intimately linked to the mesoscopic structure of the sample. This Article provides the first detailed experimental insight into the distribution of extreme states within a shocked powder mixture, and represents the first mesoscopic validation of leading theories concerning the variation in extreme pressure-temperature states during the formation of primordial planetary bodies.
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