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Sound research at Acoustical Society meeting
Date:5/9/2011

257.html">http://asa.aip.org/web2/asa/abstracts/search.may11/asa257.html

Thunder and Lightning on Titan

The clouds in Titan's atmosphere produce rain (liquid methane, not water). One lingering question, though, is whether those rain clouds also produce lightning. One of lightning's direct and unambiguous signatures, thunder, "may help corroborate the existence of electrical discharges on Titan, in tandem with the usual electromagnetic sensors," says physicist Andi Petculescu of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In two new studies, Petculescu and his undergraduate physics students Peter Achi and Christopher Hill discuss computer simulations of the physical mechanisms through which a Titanian lightning discharge generates a shock wave that is, thunder. Among other effects, the models predict that Titanian thunder would have frequencies that range from a high of roughly 100 Hz down to inaudible frequencies below 20 Hz, known as infrasound. The detection of thunder, Petculescu says, "will help corroborate and quantify lightning on Titan beyond the shadow of a doubt, which will be a very important step in inferring Titan's atmospheric electrochemistry." In addition, he adds, the discovery of lightning could inform hypotheses suggesting that complex pre-biotic and biotic molecules that is, the precursors to life can emerge out of chemical reactions "induced by the strong deposition of charge in a 'primordial pond.'" The presentations, 1pPA8, "Modeling thunder propagation and detectability on Titan," by Peter Achi and Andi Petculescu, and 1pPA9, "Gas-dynamic modeling of strong shock wave generation from lightning in Titan's troposphere," by Christopher S. Hill and Andi Petculescu, will be on Monday afternoon, May 23 in Willow room A. Abstracts: http://asa.aip.org/web2/asa/abstracts/search.may11/asa212.html

Contact: Charles E. Blue
cblue@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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