Were chondrites magnetized by the early solar wind?

Rona Oran, Benjamin P. Weiss, Ofer Cohen

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 492, 15 June 2018, Pages 222–231



• Some chondrites contain unidirectional, post-accretional remanent magnetization.
• We consider whether this magnetization originated from the young Sun’s solar wind.
• The predicted mean induced field is >103 times below many chondrite paleointensities.
• A more feasible magnetizing field source is a dynamo generated inside the body.
• Some chondrites may be fragments of a partially differentiated parent body.”

“Chondritic meteorites have been traditionally thought to be samples of undifferentiated bodies that never experienced large-scale melting. This view has been challenged by the existence of post-accretional, unidirectional natural remanent magnetization (NRM) in CV carbonaceous chondrites. The relatively young inferred NRM age [∼10 million years (My) after solar system formation] and long duration of NRM acquisition ( 1 – 10 6 y) have been interpreted as evidence that the magnetizing field was that of a core dynamo within the CV parent body. This would imply that CV chondrites represent the primitive crust of a partially differentiated body. However, an alternative hypothesis is that the NRM was imparted by the early solar wind. Here we demonstrate that the solar wind scenario is unlikely due to three main factors: 1) the magnitude of the early solar wind magnetic field is estimated to be <0.1 μT in the terrestrial planet-forming region, 2) the resistivity of chondritic bodies limits field amplification due to pile-up of the solar wind to less than a factor of 3.5 times that of the instantaneous solar wind field, and 3) the solar wind field likely changed over timescales orders of magnitude shorter than the timescale of NRM acquisition. Using analytical arguments, numerical simulations and astronomical observations of the present-day solar wind and magnetic fields of young stars, we show that the maximum mean field the ancient solar wind could have imparted on an undifferentiated CV parent body is <3.5 nT, which is 3–4 and 3 orders of magnitude weaker than the paleointensities recorded by the CV chondrites Allende and Kaba, respectively. Therefore, the solar wind is highly unlikely to be the source of the NRM in CV chondrites. Nevertheless, future high sensitivity paleomagnetic studies of rapidly-cooled meteorites with high magnetic recording fidelity could potentially trace the evolution of the solar wind field in time."