Solar XUV and ENA-driven water loss from early Venus’ steam atmosphere

H. I M Lichtenegger, K. G. Kislyakova, P. Odert, N. V. Erkaev, H. Lammer, H. Gröller, C. P. Johnstone, Linda Elkins-Tanton, L. Tu, M. Güdel, M. Holmström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We present a study on the influence of the upper atmosphere hydrodynamic escape of hydrogen, driven by the solar soft X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation (XUV), on an expected outgassed steam atmosphere of early Venus. By assuming that the young Sun was either a weak or moderately active young G star, we estimated the water loss from a hydrogen dominated thermosphere due to the absorption of the solar XUV flux and the precipitation of solar wind produced energetic hydrogen atoms (ENAs). The production of ENAs and their interaction with the hydrodynamic extended upper atmosphere, including collision-related feedback processes, have been calculated by means of Monte Carlo models. ENAs that collide in the upper atmosphere deposit their energy and heat the surrounding atmosphere mainly above the main XUV energy deposition layer. It is shown that precipitating ENAs modify the thermal structure of the upper atmosphere, but the enhancement of the thermal escape rates caused by these energetic hydrogen atoms is negligible. Our results also indicate that the majority of oxygen arising from dissociated H2O molecules is left behind during the first 100 Myr. It is thus suggested that the main part of the remaining oxygen has been absorbed by crustal oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4718-4732
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Venus
  • atmosphere evolution
  • energetic neutral atoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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