Letter to the Editor
Mobility of D atoms on porous amorphous water ice surfaces under interstellar conditions
Université de Cergy-Pontoise & Observatoire de Paris, LERMA, UMR 8112 du CNRS, 95000 Cergy-Pontoise, France e-mail: Elie.Matar@u-cergy.fr
Accepted: 23 October 2008
Aims. The mobility of H atoms on the surface of interstellar dust grains at low temperature is still a matter of debate. In dense clouds, the hydrogenation of adsorbed species (i.e., CO), as well as the subsequent deuteration of the accreted molecules depend on the mobility of H atoms on water ice. Astrochemical models widely assume that H atoms are mobile on the surface of dust grains even if controversy still exists. We present here direct experimental evidence of the mobility of H atoms on porous water ice surfaces at 10 K.
Methods. In a UHV chamber, O2 is deposited on a porous amorphous water ice substrate. Then D atoms are deposited onto the surface held at 10 K. Temperature-Programmed Desorption (TPD) is used and desorptions of O2 and D2 are simultaneously monitored.
Results. We find that the amount of O2 that desorbs during the TPD diminishes if we increase the deposition time of D atoms. O2 is thus destroyed by D atoms even though these molecules have previously diffused inside the pores of thick water ice. Our results can be easily interpreted if D is mobile at 10 K on the water ice surface. A simple rate equation model fits our experimental data and best fit curves were obtained for a D atom diffusion barrier of 22 ± 2 meV. Therefore hydrogenation can take place efficiently on interstellar dust grains. These experimental results are consistent with most calculations and validate the hypothesis used in several models.
Key words: astrochemistry / ISM: atoms / dust, extinction / methods: laboratory
© ESO, 2008