Some constraints on a greenhouse atmosphere for Triton

Michael C. Nolan, Jonathan I. Lunine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We explore the likelihood of a thick atmosphere around Neptune's satellite Triton. The infrared optical depth in the grey atmosphere approximation is computed for a range of possible surface compositions, albedos, and gravities. If molecular nitrogen and/or hydrogen are present, a self‐sustaining optically‐thick atmosphere is possible. As such an atmosphere develops, the reradiation of insolation tends toward a uniform global distribution, which provides a strong negative feedback. Bimodal behavior of Triton's atmosphere is therefore possible as seasonal effects and volatile distribution alter the distribution of thermal emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1315-1318
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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