Neptune's Deep Chemistry

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Science  28 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5304, pp. 1279-1280
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5304.1279

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Molecules such as C2H2 and C2H6 have been observed in the atmosphere of Neptune, one of the giant planets composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. Planetary scientists have puzzled over whether these hydrocarbons are formed as ultraviolet light from the sun induces photochemical reactions in atmospheric methane. In his Perspective, Hubbard discusses simulations reported in the same issue by Ancilotto et al. (p. 1288) suggesting that C2H6 may be produced by high-pressure chemical reactions deep within the planet.