Xenon Isotopes Identify Large-scale Nucleosynthetic Heterogeneities across the Solar SystemOPEN ACCESS 

G. Avice, M. Moreira, and J. D. Gilmour

The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 889, Number 1



“Nucleosynthetic isotopic anomalies in meteorites and planetary objects contribute to our understanding of the formation of the solar system. Isotope systematics of chondrites demonstrate the existence of a physical separation between isotopic reservoirs in the solar system. The isotopic composition of atmospheric xenon (Xe) indicates that its progenitor, U-Xe, is depleted in 134Xe and 136Xe isotopes relative to solar or chondritic end-members. This deficit supports the view that nucleosynthetic heterogeneities persisted during the solar system formation. Measurements of xenon emitted from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) identified a similar, but more extreme, deficit of cometary gas in these isotopes relative to solar gas. Here we show that the data from 67P demonstrate that two distinct sources contributed xenon isotopes associated with the r-process to the solar system. The h-process contributed at least 29% (2σ) of solar system 136Xe. Mixtures of these r-process components and the s-process that match the heavy isotope signature of cometary Xe lead to depletions of the precursor of atmospheric Xe in p-only isotopes. Only the addition of pure p-process Xe to the isotopic mixture brings 124Xe/132Xe and 126Xe/132Xe ratios back to solar-like values. No pure p-process Xe has been detected in solar system material, and variation in p-process Xe isotopes is always correlated with variation in r-process Xe isotopes. In the solar system, p-process incorporation from the interstellar medium happened before incorporation of r-process nuclides or material in the outer edge of the solar system carries a different mixture of presolar sources as have been preserved in parent bodies.”