Chemistry - Liquid Methane?

"The planets Uranus and Neptune are so far from the Sun that temperatures are low enough for atmospheric methane, CH4, to condense and form clouds. How is it possible for methane, a nonpolar substance, to exist in this liquid state?"

I want to say it's because nonpolar substances still have London dispersion forces, so the methane molecules are attracted to each other enough to stay in cloud form. Other than that, I'm not sure why being nonpolar affects methane's ability to form clouds.


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  1. That answer looks OK to me. You can also note that He, H2, N2, O2, Cl2 etc etc are non-polar and all of them can be a liquid if the T is low enough (high pressure helps too). He is a tough one to get but it's down there almost at absolute zero.

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    Look particularly at Figure 5 and related text.

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  3. I know this is a late reply but who cares ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Methane has London dispersion forces, they are weak. Because of this Methane condenses to a liquid at -161.85 celsius. Due to Uranus and Neptune being so far from the Sun, they are -224 and -214 celsius respectful (Uranus being the coldest planet in our solar system) So methane would be able to condense.

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  4. The reason why Methane being nonpolar and having london dispersion forces is important, is because low london dispersion forces results in a low boiling point. Boiling points are always equal to the condensation point. If Methane exhibited a different type of intermolecular force then the boiling point would be condensation point would be higher, resulting in methane condensing at a different temperature (perhaps even on Earth)

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