NASA's Genesis Mission returned solar wind (SW) to the Earth for analysis to derive the composition of the solar photosphere from solar material. SW analyses control the precision of the derived solar compositions, but their ultimate accuracy is limited by the theoretical or empirical models of fractionation due to SW formation. Mg isotopes are “ground truth” for these models since, except for CAIs, planetary materials have a uniform Mg isotopic composition (within ≤1‰) so any significant isotopic fractionation of SW Mg is primarily that of SW formation and subsequent acceleration through the corona. This study analyzed Mg isotopes in a bulk SW diamond-like carbon (DLC) film on silicon collector returned by the Genesis Mission. A novel data reduction technique was required to account for variable ion yield and instrumental mass fractionation (IMF) in the DLC. The resulting SW Mg fractionation relative to the DSM-3 laboratory standard was (−14.4‰, −30.2‰) ± (4.1‰, 5.5‰), where the uncertainty is 2ơ SE of the data combined with a 2.5‰ (total) error in the IMF determination. Two of the SW fractionation models considered generally agreed with our data. Their possible ramifications are discussed for O isotopes based on the CAI nebular composition of McKeegan et al. (2011).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science