Application of methane band-model parameters to the visible and near-infrared spectrum of Uranus

D. Chris Benner, Uwe Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Laboratory band-model absorption coefficients of CH4 are used to calculate the Uranus spectrum from 5400 to 10,400 Å. A good fit of both strong and weak bands for the Uranus spectrum over the entire wavelength interval is achieved for the first time. Three different atmospheric models are employed: a reflecting layer model, a homogeneous scattering layer model, and a clear atmosphere sandwiched between two scattering layers. The spectrum for the reflecting layer model exhibits serious discrepancies but shows that large amounts of CH4 (5-10 km-am) are necessary to reproduce the Uranus spectrum. Both scattering models give reasonably good fits. The homogeneous model requires a particle scattering albedo ( g ̃wp) ≥ 0.998 and an abundance per scattering mean free path ( a ̄) of a ̃1 km-am. The parameters derived from the sandwich layer model are: forsb the upper scattering layer a continuum single scattering albedo ( g ̃w0) of 0.995 and a scattering optical depth variable with wavelength consistent with Rayleigh scattering; for the clear layer they are a CH4 abundance (a) of 2.2 km-am and an effective pressure (p) ≥ 0.1 atm; for the lower cloud deck a Lambert reflectivity (L) of 0.9 resulted. A severe depletion of CH4 in the upper scattering layer is required. An enrichment of CH4/H2 over the solar ratio by a factor of 4-14 in the lower atmosphere is, however, indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-353
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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