Isotopic Fractionation by Plasma Processes

  • Reinald Kallenbach
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 16)


The Sun is the largest reservoir of matter in the solar system, which formed 4.6 Gy ago from the protosolar nebula. The solar wind carries a nearly unfractionated sample of heavy isotopes at energies of about 1 keV/amu from the Sun into interplanetary space. Data from space missions and theoretical models indicate that the isotopes of the volatile elements N, O, Ne, and Ar are fractionated by at most a few percent per atomic mass unit in different solar wind regimes. In contrast, isotopic abundances of solar and heliospheric energetic particles at energies larger than about 100 keV/amu are observed to strongly vary relative to solar abundances. Processes such as resonant acceleration or pre-acceleration by plasma waves, first-order Fermi acceleration, or propagation in the interplanetary plasma are discussed as causes for charge-to-mass dependent fractionation.


Solar Wind Isotopic Fractionation Solar Energetic Particle Solar Energetic Particle Event Lunar Soil 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinald Kallenbach
    • 1
  1. 1.International Space Science InstituteBernSwitzerland

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