"Planetary" noble gas components and the nucleosynthetic history of solar system material

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    Models capable of explaining the differences between the isotopic compositions of the planetary noble gas components "Q" and "P3" (widespread in primitive meteorites) and average solar system material as sampled by the solar wind are presented, and their implications discussed. Small, variable amounts of known presolar components and 129Xe from 129I decay are present in Q gases alongside a solar composition that has been mass fractionated. These most likely arise either from mixing during parent body processing or co-release from poorly retentive phases during analysis. Thus the heavy noble gas budget of primitive meteorites is dominated by a component derived from material with the average composition of the solar system. In contrast, P3 seems best explained as a presolar component, consistent with isolation from bulk material that subsequently evolved to the solar composition as newly synthesised material was added. Examination of Kr-P3 identifies the addition as having had the signature of the weak s-process, and demonstrates that a second process that contributes the isotopes of krypton not produced in the s-process (residual isotopes) must also have added material to the reservoir as it evolved to the solar composition. Total s-process contributions required of 132Xe and 84Kr are at least ∼1% of the present budget, as is that of the residual krypton "component". While concentrations of P3 vary with extents of parent body processing, concentrations of 129Xe excess from 129I decay associated with P3 are roughly constant in those least processed meteorites that retain a P3 signature (apart from ALH77307). This has a natural explanation in the different chemical behaviours of iodine and xenon if 129I was alive in P3 in the early solar system. The presence of live 129I in P3 in the early solar system imposes a loose constraint that the P3 component was isolated from a parent reservoir less than ∼100 Myr before the formation of the solar system. The model of evolution from P3 gases to the solar composition requires that residual krypton isotopes are not products of a conventional r-process that also synthesises 129I. Separate sites for synthesis of residual isotopes of krypton and the heavy element r-process are consistent with observations of metal poor stars, but do not correspond to the two r-processes invoked to account for variations between the 182Hf and 129I systems. Since the weak s-process is implicated as the source of the s-process material contributed as the P3 reservoir evolved to a solar composition, the massive stars that host it may also host the process that synthesises residual krypton isotopes. The recent presence of nearby massive stars is consistent with an emerging picture of the environment of solar system formation. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)380-393
    Number of pages13
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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