Capturing the oxidation of silicon carbide in rocky exoplanetary interiors

Kaustubh Hakim, Wim Van Westrenen, Carsten Dominik

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Context. Theoretical models predict the condensation of silicon carbide around host stars with C/O ratios higher than 0.65 (cf. C/OSun = 0.54), in addition to its observations in meteorites, interstellar medium and protoplanetary disks. Consequently, the interiors of rocky exoplanets born from carbon-enriched refractory material are often assumed to contain large amounts of silicon carbide. Aims. Here we aim to investigate the stability of silicon carbide in the interior of carbon-enriched rocky exoplanets and to derive the reaction leading to its transformation. Methods. We performed a high-pressure high-Temperature experiment to investigate the reaction between a silicon carbide layer and a layer representative of the bulk composition of a carbon-enriched rocky exoplanet. Results. We report the reaction leading to oxidation of silicon carbide producing quartz, graphite, and molten iron silicide. Combined with previous studies, we show that in order to stabilize silicon carbide, carbon saturation is not sufficient, and a complete reduction of Fe2+ to Fe0 in a planetary mantle is required, suggesting that future spectroscopic detection of Fe2+ or Fe3+ on the surface of rocky exoplanets would imply the absence of silicon carbide in their interiors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL6
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Methods: laboratory: molecular
  • Planets and satellites: composition
  • Planets and satellites: interiors
  • Planets and satellites: surfaces
  • Planets and satellites: Terrestrial planets


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