Volume 578, June 2015
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||12 June 2015|
Simulation of Titan’s atmospheric photochemistry
Formation of non-volatile residue from polar nitrile ices
Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, PIIM, UMR 7345,
2 Ice Spectroscopy Lab, Science Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
Received: 15 December 2014
Accepted: 20 January 2015
We studied the photochemistry of frozen ice of a polar Titan’s atmospheric molecule cyanodiacetylene (HC5N) to determine the possible contribution of this compound to the lower altitude photochemistry of haze layers found on Titan. We used infrared analysis to examine the residue produced by irradiation of solid HC5N at λ > 300 nm. The resulting polymer is orange-brown in color. Based on theoretical analysis and the general tendency of HC5N and C4N2 to undergo similar ice photochemistry at longer wavelengths accessible in Titan’s lower atmosphere, we conclude that Titan’s lower atmosphere is photochemically active in the regions of cloud, ice, and aerosol formation. C4N2is a symmetric molecule with no net dipole moment whereas, HC5N has a large dipole moment of ~4 D. Consequently, though both these molecules have very similar molecular weight and size, their sublimation temperatures are different, HC5N subliming around 170 K compared to 160 K for C4N2. Based on our studies we conclude that in Titan’s atmosphere the cyanoacetylene class of molecules (HCN, HC3N, HC5N, etc.) would condense first followed by the dicyanoacetylenes (C2N2, C4N2, C6N2, etc.), leading to fractionation of different class of molecules. From the fluxes used in the laboratory and depletion of the original HC5N signals, we estimate Titan’s haze ice photochemistry involving polar nitriles to be significant and very similar to their non-polar counterparts.
Key words: planets and satellites: surfaces / ultraviolet: planetary systems / astrochemistry / planets and satellites: atmospheres
© ESO, 2015
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