February 2020

To date, the exotic fourth row species arsenic trihydride or arsine (As3) has only been detected in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. In 1989, Noll et al. detected arsine in the atmospheres of both planets, while Bézard et al. reported its presence in Saturn's atmosphere only. The observations were made with the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (3.6m) (CFHT). The presence of arsine on Saturn was confirmed by ISO observations by de Graauw et al. in 1997. A 2017 study by Giles et al. measured the variability of arsine and other trace consituents in Jupiter using the Very Large Telescope.

Researcher Links
K Noll
T Geballe
R Knack
B Bézard
P Drossart
L Lellouch
G Tarrago
JP Maillard

Arsine is one of several trace element hydrides that have been detected in the gas giants, which also includes phoshine (PH3) and germane (GeH4), the latter of which has also been detected in both Jupiter and Saturn. In spite of being toxic and noxious, arsine is used in the semiconductor industry in the production of materials such as gallium arsenide.

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