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Effects of refractive index on glories

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Abstract

Atmospheric glories are caused by backscattering of sunlight from spherical droplets of water (e.g., from fog or clouds). But what would glories look like if they were caused by scattering from more exotic substances, such as clouds of ethane as found on Titan? Examining backscattering as a function of the refractive index n of spherical droplets leads to the surprising conclusion that a glory’s appearance is almost independent of n (at least for 1.03<n<1.7)—unlike the colors of rainbows, which are critically dependent on the variation of n across the visible spectrum.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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