An Alkaline Planet

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thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
An Alkaline Planet

So I was thinking about what a planet with an alkaline atmosphere would be like- besides impossible for a human to breathe, of course. What would cause such an atmosphere in the first place, and what would be the dangers it poses?

"Still and transfixed, the el/
ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute

Undocking Undocking's picture
It would be hellish and

It would be hellish and horrible. The Sudarsky exoplanet classification marks them as Class IV. You may also know Akaline atmosphere planets as Hot Jupiters. Techincally, a planet could have a similar issue to Venus and have a runaway greenhouse effect to this degree, it is not impossible. Carbon monoxide would be more common than methane, the atmosphere would be between 900ºK and 1300ºK. Cloud decks of iron and silicates would be common.

The threats? Temperature is a given. Hot jupiters can be tidally locked, and that would cause more intense windspeeds that a usual hot jupiter. Hurricanes and near permanent storm formations (like the Red Spot) would occur, a permanent storm on one of the poles is not far fetched. Iron and silicate clouds would cause their own problems, iron being in a very excited position when vapourized. I cannot be sure what sort of havoc would be wrecked, but I would venture it could be a hazard to communication and certain electric systems.

HD 209458 b is my example for an interesting an extrasolar gas giant that has an Akaline upper atmosphere with 7000 kph winds, but cooler lower atmosphere. Where our 1 bar mark would be, it would actually be kinda nice (in comparison with the hellish death above it). There may even be water vapour and methane down there, more like the outer planets we know.

thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
Hmm.

Well, I'm guessing there won't be much life around there. That's one idea out the window, but many more ideas added for things that can occur. Interesting ideas like, why and how did someone built a habitat at this Gate co-ordinate in the first place?

"Still and transfixed, the el/
ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Well, consider a planet with

Well, consider a planet with lots of ammonia, a fairly high density of the atmosphere, and liquid water/ammonia oceans: http://planetstar.wikia.com/wiki/Ammonia_planet

Rather inhospitable to humans, but could have plenty of terrestrial-like life using alternative biochemistry.

The atmosphere would be a very cold mix of nitrogen and oxygen (not deadly per se, unless the oxygen levels are extreme), but with ammonia (poisonous, turns your bodily fluids alkaline) and presumably some fishy-smelling methylamine and toxic nitrous oxides. Carbon dioxide levels could be high or not.

Optically I think it would look pretty normal: blue sky due to Rayleigh scattering, white clouds. Maybe some reddish tinge due to nitrous oxides. Some different halos: http://www.atoptics.co.uk/halo/owjup.htm and I think the rainbow would be very slightly different (but only noticeable to people really in tune with optics).

The big thing is that ammonia is essentially behaving like a mild alkali metal: ammonium ions work roughly like a potassium or sodium ion. So anything that would be badly affected by exposure to alkali metals will start corroding in the atmosphere. And in liquid solution it also forms complexes with a lot of metals, corroding them. Overall, you better have good protective suits.

Extropian