HCN fluorescence on Titan

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17 Scopus citations


The HCN emission features near 3 μm recently detected by Geballe et al. (2003, Astrophys. J. 583, L39) are analyzed with a model for fluorescence of sunlight in the ν3 band of HCN. The emission spectrum is consistent with current knowledge of the atmospheric temperature profile and the HCN distribution inferred from millimeter-wave observations. The spectrum is insensitive to the abundance of HCN in the thermosphere and the thousand-fold enhancement relative to photochemical models suggested by Geballe et al. (2003, Astrophys. J. 583, L39) is not required to explain the observations. We find that the spectrum can be matched with temperatures from 130 to 200 K, with slightly better fits at high temperature, contrary to the temperature determination of 130 ± 10 K of Geballe et al. (2003, Astrophys. J. 583, L39). The HCN emission spectrum is sensitive to the collisional de-excitation probability, P10, for the ν3 state and we determine a value of 10-5 with an accuracy of about a factor of two. Analysis of absorption lines in the C2H2 ν3 band near 3 μm, detected in the same spectrum, indicate a C2H2 mole fraction near 0.01 μbar of 10-5 for P10 = 10-4. The derived mole fraction, however, is dependent upon the value adopted for P10 and lower values are required if P10 at Titan temperatures is less than its room temperature value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Atmosphere
  • Composition
  • Temperature
  • Titan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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