Detection of H3+ from Uranus

L. M. Trafton, T. R. Geballe, S. Miller, J. Tennyson, G. E. Ballester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


The detection of H3+ in Uranus is reported. Using the CGS4 spectrometer on the UKIRT telescope, we clearly detected 11 emission features of the H3+ fundamental vibration-rotation band between 3.89 and 4.09 μm. These features are composed primarily of lines from the Q-branch; the strongest of them is the Q(3) blend at 3.985 μm. Analysis of these features indicates a rotational temperature of 740 ± 25 K, an ortho-H3+ fraction of 0.51 ± 0.03, and a disk-averaged H3+ column abundance of 6.5 × 1010 (±10%) molecules cm-2. Comparison is made with Jupiter (the only other planet for which H3+ has been detected), Saturn, and Neptune. A detection of the H2 1-0 S(1) line in Uranus and an upper limit to H3+ emission from Neptune also are reported. The rate of energy deposition into Uranus appears to be significantly higher than the rate reported during the Voyager 2 flyby in January of 1986.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-766
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Infrared: solar system
  • Planets and satellites: individual (Uranus)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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