Methanol ice co-desorption as a mechanism to explain cold methanol in the gas-phase
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics, Leiden Observatory, Leiden University,
PO Box 9513,
Leiden, The Netherlands
2 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
3 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
4 Lehrstuhl für Physikalische Chemie II, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Egerlandstr. 3, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
5 Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
Accepted: 10 January 2018
Context. Methanol is formed via surface reactions on icy dust grains. Methanol is also detected in the gas-phase at temperatures below its thermal desorption temperature and at levels higher than can be explained by pure gas-phase chemistry. The process that controls the transition from solid state to gas-phase methanol in cold environments is not understood.
Aims. The goal of this work is to investigate whether thermal CO desorption provides an indirect pathway for methanol to co-desorb at low temperatures.
Methods. Mixed CH3OH:CO/CH4 ices were heated under ultra-high vacuum conditions and ice contents are traced using RAIRS (reflection absorption IR spectroscopy), while desorbing species were detected mass spectrometrically. An updated gas-grain chemical network was used to test the impact of the results of these experiments. The physical model used is applicable for TW Hya, a protoplanetary disk in which cold gas-phase methanol has recently been detected.
Results. Methanol release together with thermal CO desorption is found to be an ineffective process in the experiments, resulting in an upper limit of ≤ 7.3 × 10−7 CH3OH molecules per CO molecule over all ice mixtures considered. Chemical modelling based on the upper limits shows that co-desorption rates as low as 10−6 CH3OH molecules per CO molecule are high enough to release substantial amounts of methanol to the gas-phase at and around the location of the CO thermal desorption front in a protoplanetary disk. The impact of thermal co-desorption of CH3OH with CO as a grain-gas bridge mechanism is compared with that of UV induced photodesorption and chemisorption.
Key words: astrochemistry / methods: laboratory: molecular / techniques: spectroscopic / molecular processes / ultraviolet: ISM
© ESO 2018