Photon-induced desorption of larger species in UV-irradiated methane ice

Carrascosa, H., Cruz Díaz, G. A., Caro, G. M. M., Dartois, E., Chen, Y. J. (2020). Photon-induced desorption of larger species in UV-irradiated methane ice. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 493, 1, 821-829 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa334

At the low temperatures found in the interior of dense clouds and circumstellar regions, along with H2O and smaller amounts of species such as CO, CO2 or CH3OH, the infrared features of CH4 have been observed on icy dust grains. Ultraviolet (UV) photons induce different processes in ice mantles, affecting the molecular abundances detected in the gas phase. This work aims to understand the processes that occur in a pure CH4 ice mantle subjected to UV irradiation. We studied photon-induced processes for the different photoproducts arising in the ice upon UV irradiation. Experiments were carried out in ISAC, an ultra-high vacuum chamber equipped with a cryostat and an F-type UV lamp reproducing the secondary UV field induced by cosmic rays in dense clouds. Infrared spectroscopy and quadrupole mass spectrometry were used to monitor the solid and gas phases, respectively, during the formation, irradiation and warming-up of the ice. Direct photodesorption of pure CH4 was not observed. UV photons form CHx and H radicals, leading to photoproducts such as H-2, C2H2, C2H6 and C3H8. Evidence for the photodesorption of C2H2 and photochemidesorption of C2H6 and C3H8 was found; the latter species is so far the largest molecule found to photochemidesorb. (CH4)-C-13 experiments were also carried out to confirm the reliability of these results.

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