Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Hawai'i at Manoa team unravels the chemistry of Titan's hazy atmosphere

16.09.2009
A team of University of Hawai'i at Mânoa researchers led by Ralf Kaiser, physical chemist at UH Mânoa, unraveled the chemical evolution of the orange-brownish colored atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, the only solar system body besides Venus and Earth with a solid surface and thick atmosphere.

The UH Mânoa team, including Xibin Gu and Seol Kim, conducted simulation experiments mimicking the chemical reactions in Titan's atmosphere utilizing crossed molecular beams in which the consequence of a single collision between molecules can be followed.

The team's experiments indicate that triacetylene can be formed by a single collision of a "radical" ethynyl molecule and a diacetylene molecule. An ethynyl radical is produced in Titan's atmosphere by the photodissociation of acetylene by ultraviolet light. Photodissociation is a process in which a chemical compound is broken down by photons.

"Surprisingly, the photochemical models show inconsistent mechanisms for the production of polyynes," said Kaiser, who is the principal investigator of this study.

The mechanism involved in the formation of triacetylene, was also confirmed by accompanying theoretical calculations by Alexander Mebel, a theoretical chemist at Florida International University. These theoretical computations also provide the 3D distribution of electrons in atoms and thus the overall energy level of a molecule. To apply these findings to the real atmosphere of Titan, Danie Liang and Yuk Yung, planetary scientists at Taiwan's Academia Sinica and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), respectively, performed photochemical modeling studies of Titan's atmosphere. All data together suggest that triacetylene may serve as a building block to form more complex and longer polyynes and produce potential precursors for the aerosol-based layers of haze surrounding Titan.

The study demonstrated for the first time that a sensible combination of laboratory simulation experiments with theory and modeling studies can shed light on decade old unsolved problems crucial to understand the origin and chemical evolution of the solar system. The researchers hope to unravel next the mystery of the missing ethane lakes on Titan – postulated to exist for half a century, but not detected conclusively within the framework of the Cassini-Huygens mission.

In the future, the UH Mânoa team will combine the research results with terrestrial-based observations of Titan's atmosphere. Alan Tokunaga, astronomer at UH Mânoa's Institute for Astronomy, and Henry Roe from Lowell Observatory in Arizona, are currently collecting observational data using the NASA infrared telescope facility on the snowcapped peak of Mauna Kea.

Supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team's article "Chemical dynamics of triacetylene formation and implications to the synthesis of polyynes in Titan's atmosphere" is published in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/09/11/0900525106.abstract.

The University of Hawai`i at Mânoa serves approximately 20,000 students pursuing 225 different degrees. Coming from every Hawaiian island, every state in the nation, and more than 100 countries, UH Mânoa students matriculate in an enriching environment for the global exchange of ideas. For more information, visit http://manoa.hawaii.edu.

Ralf Kaiser | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hawaii.edu
http://manoa.hawaii.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New material for splitting water
19.06.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing
19.06.2018 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>