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Carbon Chain Anions and the Growth of Complex Organic Molecules in Titan's Ionosphere
Univ Coll London, Mullard Space Sci Lab, Holmbury RH5 6NT, Surrey, England.;UCL Birkbeck, Ctr Planetary Sci, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, England..
Univ Coll London, Mullard Space Sci Lab, Holmbury RH5 6NT, Surrey, England.;UCL Birkbeck, Ctr Planetary Sci, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, England..
Univ Coll London, Mullard Space Sci Lab, Holmbury RH5 6NT, Surrey, England.;UCL Birkbeck, Ctr Planetary Sci, Gower St, London WC1E 6BT, England..
Univ Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, F-38000 Grenoble, France..
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2017 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal Letters, ISSN 2041-8205, E-ISSN 2041-8213, Vol. 844, no 2, article id L18Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Cassini discovered a plethora of neutral and ionized molecules in Titan's ionosphere including, surprisingly, anions and negatively charged molecules extending up to 13,800 u q-1. In this Letter, we forward model the Cassini electron spectrometer response function to this unexpected ionospheric component to achieve an increased mass resolving capability for negatively charged species observed at Titan altitudes of 950-1300 km. We report on detections consistently centered between 25.8 and 26.0 u q-1 and between 49.0-50.1 u q(-1) which are identified as belonging to the carbon chain anions, CN-/C3N- and/or C2H-/C4H-, in agreement with chemical model predictions. At higher ionospheric altitudes, detections at 73-74 u q-1 could be attributed to the further carbon chain anions C5N-/C6H- but at lower altitudes and during further encounters extend over a higher mass/charge range. This, as well as further intermediary anions detected at > 100 u, provide the first evidence for efficient anion chemistry in space involving structures other than linear chains. Furthermore, at altitudes below < 1100 km, the low-mass anions (< 150 u q-1) were found to deplete at a rate proportional to the growth of the larger molecules, a correlation that indicates the anions are tightly coupled to the growth process. This study adds Titan to an increasing list of astrophysical environments where chain anions have been observed and shows that anion chemistry plays a role in the formation of complex organics within a planetary atmosphere as well as in the interstellar medium.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 844, no 2, article id L18
Keywords [en]
astrobiology, astrochemistry, ISM: molecules, planets and satellites: atmospheres, planets and satellites: individual (Titan)
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-332933DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa7851ISI: 000406276800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-332933DiVA, id: diva2:1157313
Funder
Swedish National Space Board, Dnr 130/11:2Available from: 2017-11-15 Created: 2017-11-15 Last updated: 2017-11-15Bibliographically approved

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Shebanits, OlegWahlund, Jan-ErikEdberg, Niklas J. T.
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Department of Physics and AstronomySwedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division
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