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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 18 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 9595-9603, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-11-9595-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 16 Sep 2011

Research article | 16 Sep 2011

The observation of chemiluminescent NiO* emissions in the laboratory and in the night airglow

W. F. J. Evans1,2, R. L. Gattinger3, A. L. Broadfoot4, and E. J. Llewellyn3 W. F. J. Evans et al.
  • 1Northwest Research Associates Inc., 4118 148 Avenue N.E., Redmond, WA 98052, USA
  • 2Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
  • 3ISAS, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, 116 Science Place, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada
  • 4Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1629 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721-0092, USA

Abstract. The recent finding of an orange spectral feature in OSIRIS/Odin spectra of the night airglow near 87 km has raised interest in the origin of the emission. The feature was positively identified as the chemiluminescent FeO* emission where the iron is of meteoric origin. Since the meteorite source of atomic metals in the mesosphere contains both iron and nickel, with Ni being typically 6 % of Fe, it is expected that faint emissions involving Ni should also be present in the night airglow. The present study summarizes the laboratory observations of chemiluminescent NiO* emissions and includes a search for the NiO* signature in the night airglow. A very faint previously unidentified "continuum" extending longwave of 440 nm has been detected in the night airglow spectra obtained with two space-borne limb viewing instruments. Through a comparison with laboratory spectra this continuum is identified as arising from the NiO* emission. The altitude profile of the new airglow emission has also been measured. The similarity of the altitude profiles of the FeO* and NiO* emissions also suggests the emission is NiO as both can originate from reaction of the metal atoms with mesospheric ozone. The observed NiO* to FeO* ratio exhibits considerable variability; possible causes of this observed variation are briefly discussed.

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