Elemental abundances of major elements in the solar wind as measured in genesis targets and implications on solar wind fractionation

Veronika S. Heber, Kevin D. McKeegan, Robert C.J. Steele, Amy J.G. Jurewicz, Karen D. Rieck, Yunbin Guan, Rainer Wieler, Donald S. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We present elemental abundance data of C, N, O, Na, Mg, Al, Ca, and Cr in Genesis silicon targets. For Na, Mg, Al, and Ca, data from three different solar wind (SW) regimes are also presented. Data were obtained by backside depth profiling using secondary ion mass spectrometry. The accuracy of these measurements exceeds those obtained by in situ observations; therefore, the Genesis data provide new insights into elemental fractionation between Sun and SW, including differences between SW regimes. We integrate previously published noble gas and hydrogen elemental abundances from Genesis targets, as well as preliminary values for K and Fe. The abundances of the SW elements measured display the well-known fractionation pattern that correlates with each element's first-ionization potential (FIP). When normalized either to spectroscopic photospheric solar abundances or to those derived from CI-chondritic meteorites, the fractionation factors of low-FIP elements (K, Na, Al, Ca, Cr, Mg, Fe) are essentially identical within uncertainties, but the data are equally consistent with increasing fractionation with decreasing FIP. The elements with higher FIPs between ∼11 and ∼16 eV (C, N, O, H, Ar, Kr, Xe) display a relatively well-defined trend of increasing fractionation with decreasing FIP, if normalized to modern 3D photospheric model abundances. Among the three Genesis regimes, the fast SW displays the least elemental fractionation for almost all elements (including the noble gases) but differences are modest: for low-FIP elements, the precisely measured fast-slow SW variations are less than 3%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberabc94a
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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