December 2017

Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acid, H2SO4, has been a known constituent of the atmosphere of Venus since the 1974 study by Hansen and Hovenier of the polarization of clouds on Venus, which built upon earlier work by Pollack et al. and others. It is now well-established that the dense clouds and haze layers on the planet are composed of concentrated sulfuric acid.

To date, sulfuric acid has not been detected in interstellar clouds. In 1981, Hollis et al. reported their search for two degenerate lines of H2SO4 in a variety of sources but found no evidence for it anywhere they looked. The related species SH, SH+, SO, SO+, SO2, and H2S have all been detected in interstellar sources. Scappini et al. suggested that sulfuric acid might be present in hydrated form trapped in icy grain mantles.

Sulfuric acid is well-known in terrestrial chemistry, with many industrial uses. It is also a primary component of acid rain, forming from the hydration of sulfur dioxide.


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