Volume 570, October 2014
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Section||Atomic, molecular, and nuclear data|
|Published online||16 October 2014|
Relevance of the H2 + O reaction pathway for the surface formation of interstellar water
Combined experimental and modeling study
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics, Leiden
Observatory, University of Leiden,
PO Box 9513,
2 Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, IMM, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3 Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, California 91125, USA
Received: 22 May 2014
Accepted: 9 September 2014
The formation of interstellar water is commonly accepted to occur on the surfaces of icy dust grains in dark molecular clouds at low temperatures (10–20 K), involving hydrogenation reactions of oxygen allotropes. As a result of the large abundances of molecular hydrogen and atomic oxygen in these regions, the reaction H2 + O has been proposed to contribute significantly to the formation of water as well. However, gas-phase experiments and calculations, as well as solid-phase experimental work contradict this hypothesis. Here, we use precisely executed temperature-programmed desorption (TPD) experiments in an ultra-high vacuum setup combined with kinetic Monte Carlo simulations to establish an upper limit of the water production starting from H2 and O. These reactants were brought together in a matrix of CO2 in a series of (control) experiments at different temperatures and with different isotopological compositions. The water detected with the quadrupole mass spectrometer upon TPD was found to originate mainly from contamination in the chamber itself. However, if water is produced in small quantities on the surface through H2 + O, this can only be explained by a combined classical and tunneled reaction mechanism. An absolutely conservative upper limit for the reaction rate was derived with a microscopic kinetic Monte Carlo model that converts the upper limit into the highest possible reaction rate. Incorporating this rate into simulation runs for astrochemically relevant parameters shows that the upper limit to the contribution of the reaction H2 + O in OH, and hence water formation, is 11% in dense interstellar clouds. Our combined experimental and theoretical results indicate, however, that this contribution is most likely much lower.
Key words: astrochemistry / molecular processes / ISM: clouds / methods: laboratory: solid state
© ESO, 2014
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