August 2008

Nitrogen

Nitrogen (N2) resisted detection for many years because it has no dipole moment and is microwave inactive. It was finally observed in 2004 by Knauth et al. in the far ultraviolet via the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE). Due to the difficulties associated with directly observing N2, the related species protonated nitrogen has been used as a tracer of N2 column density for many years. Unlike N2, N2H+ has a substantial dipole moment a good rotational spectrum.

Nitrogen is also the dominant species in the atmosphere of Titan, as determined by Voyager 1.


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