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We have constructed a model of the Jovian ionosphere that includes direct photoionization of hydrocarbon molecules. A high resolution solar spectrum was synthesized from Hinteregger's solar maximum spectrum (F79050N) and high resolution cross sections for photoabsorption by H2 bands in the range 842 to 1116 Å were constructed. Two strong solar lines and about 30% of the continuum flux between 912 and 1116 Å penetrate below the methane homopause despite strong absorption by CH4 and H2. We find that hydrocarbons (mainly C2H2) are ionized at a maximum rate of 55 cm−3 sec−1 at 320 km above the ammonia cloud tops. The hydrocarbon ions produced are quickly converted to more complex hydrocarbon ions through reactions with CH4, C2H2, C2H6, and C2C4. We find that a hydrocarbon ion layer is formed near 320 km that is about 50 km wide with a peak density in excess of 1 × 104 cm−3.


Copyright © 1991 by the American Geophysical Union.

The following article appeared in Geophysical Research Letters 18(2), and may be found at

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