Composition of the Solar Wind

  1. J. H. Waite Jr.,
  2. J. L. Burch and
  3. R. L. Moore
  1. P. Bochsler and
  2. J. Geiss

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM054p0133

Solar System Plasma Physics

Solar System Plasma Physics

How to Cite

Bochsler, P. and Geiss, J. (1989) Composition of the Solar Wind, in Solar System Plasma Physics (eds J. H. Waite, J. L. Burch and R. L. Moore), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM054p0133

Author Information

  1. Physikalisches Institut, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900742

Online ISBN: 9781118664315



  • Space plasmas;
  • Sun;
  • Magnetosphere;
  • Astrophysics


Under normal circumstances the composition of the solar wind is mainly determined by processes occurring in the chromosphere and the transition region. From the apparent systematics of solar wind abundances with respect to the first ionization potentials of the elements, it is concluded that these processes involve an efficient ion-neutral separation. Detailed models of these processes have been partially successful in reproducing solar wind abundances. However, some features, e.g., the relatively low carbon abundance of solar energetic particles (SEPs) and solar wind ions, remain difficult to explain. The isotopic composition of solar wind neon differs significantly from SEP-neon. It is not known what causes the discrepancy, and this raises the question of how closely the solar wind reflects solar surface isotopic abundances. The question can probably be solved only with precise measurements of other isotopic ratios in the solar wind by new techniques. The charge states of solar wind ions are established during the transfer of matter through the corona. The charge state of elements depends sensitively on the energy distribution of electrons in the lower corona. It is expected that future observations can yield more detailed information about charge state distributions and that charge states will therefore serve as an efficient diagnostic tool for varying conditions in the inner corona.