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The chemistry of the moon Titan has been revealed

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii has revealed the chemical composition of the orange-brown atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan

Titan in natural colors - photo: NASA
Titan in natural colors - photo: NASA

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii revealed the chemical composition of the orange-brown atmosphere of the moon of the planet Saturn, Titan - the only celestial body in the solar system, apart from the stars Venus and Earth, that has a solid surface and a thin atmosphere. The research team conducted imaging experiments simulating the chemical reactions in Titan's atmosphere using the crossed molecular beam method in which individual collisions between different particles can be monitored.

The experiments conducted by the scientists show that triacetylene can be produced through a single collision between an ethynyl radical and a diacetylene radical. The ethynyl radical is obtained in Titan's atmosphere through the radioactive discharge of acetylene by ultraviolet light. Radioactive decay is a process in which a chemical compound is broken down by photons.

"Surprisingly, the photochemical simulations indicate inconsistent mechanisms for the production of polyynes (compounds with multiple triple bonds, polyynes)," explains lead researcher Kaiser.
The mechanism responsible for the creation of triacetylene was also verified through accompanying theoretical calculations made by a theoretical chemist at the University of Florida. These theoretical calculations also provide the three-dimensional distribution of electrons in the atoms and hence the general energy level of the atom. In order to apply these findings to the actual atmosphere of Titan, two planetary scientists, one from Taiwan and the other from Caltech Research Institute in California, performed photochemical imaging experiments of Titan's atmosphere. The entire collection of information suggests that triacetylene may be used as a building block to create longer and more complex polyacetylene compounds that then function as the starting materials for the layers that make up Titan's nebular environment.

The study demonstrates, for the first time ever, that an intelligent combination of laboratory imaging experiments with theoretical studies can shed a lot of light on problems that have been unsolved for a decade that are significant for understanding the origin and chemical evolution of our solar system. The researchers hope to reveal, in the next step, the mystery of the ethane lakes on Titan - which are predicted to have existed for half a century, but have not yet been unequivocally observed.

The news from the University of Hawaii

11 תגובות

  1. Zeus, the surface on Mars is hotter than Mars and Titan is also close to Saturn and the protective fields produced by the latter can be fatal to humans. The oceans on Titan are toxic, and so is its atmosphere - compared to Mars, whose atmosphere is not toxic, and if there are oceans on it, they will be of water.
    A B What I do wonder about is that they don't think of honing the moon.

  2. Isn't a colony on Titan (or another moon in the solar system) more worthwhile than a colony on Mars?

  3. The photo of the day that appears on the left is taken directly from the NASA website, while the Israeli translation of the website of the beginning of science and the astronomical club of Tel Aviv University is updated later, usually around 11.

  4. Dr. Nachmani, you have good intentions, but you get the impression that you wrote the article only for chemistry and physics graduates. It's just hard to understand

  5. "Titan - the only celestial body in the solar system, apart from the stars Venus and the Earth, with a solid surface and a thin atmosphere" - huh???
    What about Mars?

  6. From the article it is not properly given the innovation in the experiment and the theoretical work described, from what is written it seems that the above results could have been obtained even a decade or two ago if someone had bothered to do the necessary calculations.
    Did those scientists use the new information about the composition of Titan's atmosphere? A breakthrough technique or is the very combination of visualization and theoretical work the "punch line"?

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