UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy


Spectrum of hot methane in astronomical objects using a comprehensive computed line list

18 June 2014


A powerful new model to detect life on planets outside of our solar system, more accurately than ever before, has been developed by researchers from UCL Physics & Astronomy and the University of New South Wales.

Methane (CH4) is the simplest organic molecule.

Hot methane is important in cool stars, brown dwarfs, exoplanets, gas turbine engines, and elsewhere. There is a pressing need for an accurate and complete spectroscopic database for methane at elevated temperatures. This paper presents a comprehensive spectroscopic line list for methane containing almost 10 billion transitions, 2,000 times more than any previous compilation, covering a broad spectroscopic range and applicable for temperatures up to 1,500 K. It demonstrate that such a line list is essential for correctly modeling the brown dwarf 2MASS 0559- 14 (see figure) and leads to large changes in exoplanet models. We believe that this line list will have a large effect on the field of exoplanets and cool stars.

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