Back to overview

Argon, krypton, and xenon in the bulk solar wind as collected by the Genesis mission

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2011
Author Vogel N, Heber VS, Baur H, Burnett DS, Wieler R,
Project High energy particle irradiation in the early solar system and stellar nucleosynthesis studied with noble gases in primitive meteorites
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Volume (Issue) 75(11)
Page(s) 3057 - 3071


We present bulk solar wind isotopic and elemental ratios for Ar, Kr, and Xe averaged from up to 14 individual analyses on silicon targets exposed to the solar wind for similar to 2.3 years during NASA's Genesis mission. All averages are given with 1 sigma standard errors of the means and include the uncertainties of our absolute calibrations. The isotopic ratios Kr-86/Kr-84 and Xe-129/Xe-132 are 0.303 +/- 0.001 and 1.06 +/- 0.01, respectively. The elemental ratios Ar-36/Kr-84 and Kr-84/Xe-132 are 2390 +/- 120 and 9.9 +/- 0.3, respectively. Average fluxes of Kr-84 and Xe-132 in the bulk solar wind in atoms/(cm(2) s) are 0.166 +/- 0.009 and 0.017 +/- 0.001, respectively. The flux uncertainties also include a 2% uncertainty for the determination of the extracted areas. The bulk solar wind Ar-36/Ar-38 ratio of 5.50 +/- 0.01 and the Ar-36 flux of 397 +/- 11 atoms/(cm(2) s) determined from silicon targets agree well with the Ar-36/Ar-38 ratio and the Ar-36 flux determined earlier on a different type of target by Heber et al. (2009). A comparison of the solar wind noble gas/oxygen abundance ratios with those in the solar photosphere revealed a slight enrichment of Xe and, within uncertainties a roughly uniform depletion of Kr-He in the solar wind, possibly related to the first ionization potentials of the studied elements. Thus, the solar wind elemental abundances He-Kr display within uncertainties roughly photospheric compositions relative to each other. A comparison of the Genesis data with solar wind heavy noble gas data deduced from lunar regolith samples irradiated with solar wind at different times in the past reveals uniform Ar-36/Kr-84 ratios over the last 1-2 Ga but an increase of the Kr-84/Xe-132 ratio of about a factor of 2 during the same time span. The reason for this change in the solar wind composition remains unknown. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.