Chemistry of temperate super-earth and mini-neptune atmospheric hazes from laboratory experiments

Sarah E. Moran, Sarah M. Hörst, Véronique Vuitton, Chao He, Nikole K. Lewis, Laurène Flandinet, Julianne I. Moses, Nicole North, François Régis Orthous-Daunay, Joshua Sebree, Cédric Wolters, Eliza M.R. Kempton, Mark S. Marley, Caroline V. Morley, Jeff A. Valenti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Very little experimental work has been done to explore the properties of photochemical hazes formed in atmospheres with very different compositions or temperatures than those of the outer solar system or of early Earth. With extrasolar planet discoveries now numbering thousands, this untapped phase space merits exploration. This study presents measured chemical properties of haze particles produced in laboratory analogs of exoplanet atmospheres. We used very high-resolution mass spectrometry to measure the chemical components of solid particles produced in atmospheric chamber experiments. Many complex molecular species with general chemical formulas CwHxNyOz were detected. We detect molecular formulas of prebiotic interest in the data, including those for the monosaccharide glyceraldehyde, a variety of amino acids and nucleotide bases, and several sugar derivatives. Additionally, the experimental exoplanetary haze analogs exhibit diverse solubility characteristics, which provide insight into the possibility of further chemical or physical alteration of photochemical hazes in super-Earth and mini-Neptune atmospheres. These exoplanet analog particles can help us better understand chemical atmospheric processes and suggest a possible source of in situ atmospheric prebiotic chemistry on distant worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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