Exoplanets & Exomoons

Humid Evolution of Haze in the Atmosphere of Super-Earths in the Habitable Zone

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
June 2, 2023
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Humid Evolution of Haze in the Atmosphere of Super-Earths in the Habitable Zone
Van Krevelen diagrams of a) 2 month old sample, b) 1.8 year old sample, c) 3.5 year old sample. The intensity of the points is given by the color code ranging from blue (lowest abundance) to red (highest abundance). Mass spectra of five different families present in the sample are given for the d) 2 month old sample, e) 1.8 year old sample, f) 3.5 year old sample. — astro-ph.EP

Photochemical hazes are expected to form and significantly contribute to the chemical and radiative balance of exoplanets with relatively moderate temperatures, possibly in the habitable zone of their host star.

In the presence of humidity, haze particles might thus serve as cloud condensation nuclei and trigger the formation of water droplets. In the present work, we are interested in the chemical impact of such a close interaction between photochemical hazes and humidity on the organic content composing the hazes and on the capacity to generate organic molecules with high prebiotic potential.

For this purpose, we explore experimentally the sweet spot by combining N-dominated super-Earth exoplanets in agreement with Titan’s rich organic photochemistry and humid conditions expected for exoplanets in habitable zones.

A logarithmic increase with time is observed for the relative abundance of oxygenated species, with O-containing molecules dominating after 1 month only. The rapidity of the process suggests that the humid evolution of N-rich organic haze provides an efficient source of molecules with high prebiotic potential.

Julien Maillard, Nathalie Carrasco, Christopher P. Rüger, Audrey Chatain, Isabelle Schmitz-Afonso, Chad R. Weisbrod, Laetitia Bailly, Emilie Petit, Thomas Gautier, Amy M. McKenna, Carlos Afonso

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2306.00276 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2306.00276v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
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Submission history
From: Nathalie Carrasco
[v1] Thu, 1 Jun 2023 01:38:23 UTC (1,518 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻