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Rydberg Matter clusters of alkali metal atoms: the link between meteoritic matter, polar mesosphere summer echoes (PMSE), sporadic sodium layers, polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs, NLCs), and ion chemistry in the mesosphere

Magazine article
Authors K. Frans G. Olofson
Patrik U Andersson
Leif Holmlid
Published in arXiv:1002.1570v1[astro-ph.EP]
Pages (51 pages)
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Chemistry
Pages (51 pages)
Language en
Keywords Middle atmosphere – composition and chemistry, Cloud physics and chemistry, Ion chemistry of the atmosphere.
Subject categories Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


There exists a material which links together the influx of meteoritic matter from interplanetary space, the polar mesosphere summer echoes (PMSE), the sporadic sodium layers, the polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs, NLCs), and the observed ion chemistry in the mesosphere. The evidence in these research fields is here analyzed and found to agree well with the properties of Rydberg Matter (RM). This material has been studied with numerous methods in the laboratory. Alkali atoms, mainly Na, reach the mesosphere in the form of interplanetary (meteoritic, cometary) dust. The planar RM clusters NaN usually contain N = 19, 37 or 61 atoms, and have the density of air at 90 km altitude where they float. The diameters of the clusters are 10-100 nm from laboratory high precision radio frequency spectroscopic studies. Such experiments show that RM clusters interact strongly with radar frequencies: this explains the radio frequency heating and reflection studies of PMSE layers. The clusters give circular polarized scattering and depolarized scattering of visible light in laboratory experiments: similar effects are observed in light scattering and lidar studies of NLCs. The clusters give the low temperature in the mesosphere by efficient selective radiation at long wavelengths, which is observed in RF emission experiments. The lowest possible stable temperature of the mesopause is calculated for the first time to be 121 K in agreement with measurements, based on the strong optical activity at long wavelengths in RM. Sporadic sodium layers are explained in a unique way as due to shockwaves in the RM layers. Due to the high electronic excitation energy in RM clusters, they induce efficient reactions forming ions of all atoms and molecules in the atmosphere thus providing condensation nuclei for water vapour. This finally gives the visible part of the PMC structure. Especially the sporadic sodium layers and the PMSE give direct evidence for the existence of RM layers at the mesopause. The present contribution fills the gap between and partially replaces the separate theories used to describe the various aspects of these intriguing phenomena.

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