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Radiative Transfer and Photochemistry in the Upper Atmosphere of Jupiter


Gladstone, George Randall (1983) Radiative Transfer and Photochemistry in the Upper Atmosphere of Jupiter. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/pzzp-2209.


The upper atmosphere of Jupiter, from the tropopause to well above the homopause, is investigated as to its compositional structure and vertical mixing parameters. Constraints are obtained through the study of the radiative transfer of ultraviolet resonance lines and continuum radiation. These constraints and others are then used in the modeling of the hydrocarbon photochemistry of Jupiter.

A direct finite difference numerical solution for the equation of radiative transfer is developed for use in planetary atmospheres. The procedure uses a plane-parallel atmosphere, and can treat partial frequency redistribution (for use in the radiative transfer of optically thick resonance lines), inhomogeneity, external or internal sources, and various boundary conditions. Isotropic scattering is assumed, but in the case of no frequency redistribution, a Rayleigh phase function may be used. A program utilizing this solution is tested against more powerful and elaborate methods. This program is then applied to the Lyman-α aurora of Jupiter, and detailed line profiles are presented.

Using this program, a study is made of the UV reflection spectrum of Jupiter as measured by the International Ultraviolet Explorer. Detailed modeling reveals the mixing ratios of C2H2, C2H6, and C4H2 to be (1.0 ± 0.1) x 10-7, (6.6 ± 5.3) x 10-6, and (2.9 ± 2.0) x 10-10, respectively in the pressure region between ∼ 3 and 40 mbar. Upper limits in this pressure region for the mixing ratios of C2H4 and NH3 were determined to be (3.9 ± 4.93.9) x 10-10 and (4.2 ± 6.74.2 x 10-9, respectively. An upper limit to the optical depth of dust above the tropopause, assuming it is well mixed, is 0.2 ± 0.30.2 and an upper limit on the dayglow emission by the Lyman bands of H2 is 1.4 ± 2.41.4 kiloRayleighs. Comparison with Voyager results suggests that the scale height of C2H2 in the region 150-10 mbar is approximately twice that of the bulk atmosphere, consistent with the IUE observation of cosine-like limb darkening in the north-south direction on Jupiter in the UV.

The resonant scattering of the solar He I 584 Å emission line by the upper Jovian atmosphere is investigated next. The observed intensity of this scattered line depends directly on the eddy diffusion for vertical mixing (Kh) and the temperature (Th) at the homopause. Using the temperature profile determined by the Voyager UVS experiment, a value of Kh = 1.3 x 106 cm2s-1 ± 30% is obtained. If the temperature profile was the same during the Pioneer 10 encounter with Jupiter, then Kh ≈ 1 x 108 cm2 s-1 at that time. The He 584 Å brightness is found not to depend strongly on the gradients of either the eddy diffusion or temperature profiles. A semi-analytical expression for computing the He 584 Å brightness for a constant-K, constant-T atmosphere is derived and compared with calculations by other authors. It is speculated that the apparent decrease in Kh by two orders of magnitude between the Pioneer and Voyager encounters may be the result of an increase in the pole-to-equator circulation in the thermosphere, perhaps driven by the solar cycle.

The above results are used as constraints for a one-dimensional photochemical-diffusive model of the hydrocarbon chemistry in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. The important chemical cycles and pathways among the C and C2 species are outlined and it is shown that the amount of methane dissociation resulting from acetylene photochemistry is comparable to the amount that is due to direct photolysis. Profiles for the major observed hydrocarbon species are calculated and their sensitivity to eddy diffusion profile, chemistry, and solar UV flux is examined. A best fit to the eddy diffusion profile of the upper atmosphere during the Voyager encounters is found to be given by K = 1.3 x 106(2.17 x 1013/n)0.5 cm2 s-1 (where n is the total number density), which implies a vertical mixing time at the tropopause of ~ 50 years. It is shown that polyacetylene formation driven by acetylene photochemistry in the models presented here is capable of producing the observed abundance of Danielson dust in the stratosphere of Jupiter. The disk-averaged Lyman-α albedo of the the preferred model is calculated to be ~ 8 kiloRayleighs, almost a factor of two lower than the Voyager observed value of ~ 14 kiloRayleighs. This may indicate the need for an increased flux of atomic hydrogen from the thermosphere over the already present source from EUV and soft electron dissociation of H2. Such a flux is available from the auroral regions if there exists a pole-to-equator flow in the thermosphere as postulated earlier. Finally, a brief consideration of the auroral chemistry concludes that more lab studies of ion-neutral and ion-electron recombination reactions are needed before a meaningful study of that problem may be undertaken.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Planetary Science; Astronomy
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Minor Option:Astronomy
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Muhleman, Duane Owen
Thesis Committee:
  • Muhleman, Duane Owen (chair)
  • Goldreich, Peter Martin
  • Yung, Yuk L.
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P.
  • Burnett, Donald S.
Defense Date:29 September 1982
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:02042013-113709002
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7461
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:04 Feb 2013 22:14
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:31

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