Hydrogenation reactions in interstellar CO ice analogues
A combined experimental/theoretical approach
Raymond & Beverly Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics, Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 11 June 2009
Context. Hydrogenation reactions of CO in inter- and circumstellar ices are regarded as an important starting point in the formation of more complex species. Previous laboratory measurements by two groups of the hydrogenation of CO ices provided controversial results about the formation rate of methanol.
Aims. Our aim is to resolve this controversy by an independent investigation of the reaction scheme for a range of H-atom fluxes and different ice temperatures and thicknesses. To fully understand the laboratory data, the results are interpreted theoretically by means of continuous-time, random-walk Monte Carlo simulations.
Methods. Reaction rates are determined by using a state-of-the-art ultra high vacuum experimental setup to bombard an interstellar CO ice analog with H atoms at room temperature. The reaction of CO + H into H2CO and subsequently CH3OH is monitored by a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer in a reflection absorption mode. In addition, after each completed measurement, a temperature programmed desorption experiment is performed to identify the produced species according to their mass spectra and to determine their abundance. Different H-atom fluxes, morphologies, and ice thicknesses are tested. The experimental results are interpreted using Monte Carlo simulations. This technique takes into account the layered structure of CO ice.
Results. The formation of both formaldehyde and methanol via CO hydrogenation is confirmed at low temperature ( K). We confirm that the discrepancy between the two Japanese studies is caused mainly by a difference in the applied hydrogen atom flux, as proposed by Hidaka and coworkers. The production rate of formaldehyde is found to decrease and the penetration column to increase with temperature. Temperature-dependent reaction barriers and diffusion rates are inferred using a Monte Carlo physical chemical model. The model is extended to interstellar conditions to compare with observational H2CO/CH3OH data.
Key words: astrochemistry / infrared: ISM / ISM: atoms / ISM: molecules / methods: laboratory
© ESO, 2009