Press Release

Cryogenic-specific reddish coloration could explain color diversity of outer solar system objects


Reddish coloration and color diversity among icy bodies in the outer solar system are significant clues for understanding the status and history of the solar system. However, the origin of color distribution remains debatable. Here, we demonstrate reddish coloration that is stable only at cryogenic temperatures in a laboratory experiment. The reddish coloration was produced on methanol- and water-containing ice irradiated with nitrogen-containing cryoplasma at 85 K. The reddish color visually faded and disappeared at 120–150 K as the ice was heated, unlike well-known refractory organic tholins that are stable even when heated to room temperature. This temperature dependence of reddish coloration under cryogenic conditions could provide a new possible explanation for the absence of ultra-red coloration closer to the Sun in the outer solar system. Our result implies that a reddish material specific to cryogenic environments is useful for the investigation of color diversity and the formation mechanism of the outer solar system.


Title: Cryogenic-specific reddish coloration by cryoplasma: New explanation for color diversity of outer solar system objects
Publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Author: Noritaka Sakakibara*, Phua YuYu, Tsuyohito Ito, Kazuo Terashima*
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab75c5
Date: 16 May 2020