Neptune’s HCl upper limit from Herschel/HIFI

Nicholas A Teanby*, B Gould, PGJ Irwin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Here we search for hydrogen chloride (HCl) in Neptune’s stratosphere using observations of the 1876.22 GHz J=3–2 transition from the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on Herschel. Observations comprise a 7.2 hr disc-averaged integration, originally designed to investigate stratospheric methane. Significant HCl emission was not detected. Instead, we determine upper limits using step-type abundance profiles, defined by zero deep abundance and uniform volume mixing ratio for pressures less than a transition pressure (assumed to be 0.1 or 1 mbar). These profiles are a reasonable first-order approximation for an externally sourced species; at higher pressures HCl is expected to be removed by aerosol scavenging and reactions with ammonia. The 3 upper limits are 0.70 parts per billion (ppb) for a 0.1 mbar transition pressure and 0.076 ppb for a 1 mbar transition pressure. These upper limits are the most stringent to date and are consistent with current estimates of interplanetary dust particle flux and the hypothesis that Neptune experienced a large comet impact in the past 1000 years.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114045
Number of pages8
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2020


  • Neptune
  • atmosphere
  • composition
  • Herschel
  • sub-millimetre


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