Reactive collision of electrons with CO+ in cometary coma
Oukaimeden Observatory, High Energy Physics and Astrophysics Laboratory, Cadi Ayyad University,
2 Space sciences, Technologies & Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
3 Laboratoire Ondes et Milieux Complexes, CNRS-UMR-6294, Université du Havre, Le Havre, France
4 Laboratoire des Sciences des Procédés et des Matériaux, CNRS-UPR-3407, Université Paris 13, Paris, France
5 Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Debrecen, Hungary
6 Laboratoire Aimé Cotton, CNRS-UMR-9188, Université Paris Sud, ENS Cachen et Université Paris Saclay, Paris, France
7 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Accepted: 22 March 2018
Context. In order to improve our understanding of the kinetics of the cometary coma, theoretical studies of the major reactive collisions in these environments are needed. Deep in the collisional coma, inelastic collisions between thermal electrons and molecular ions result in recombination and vibrational excitation, the rates of these processes being particularly elevated due to the high charged particle densities in the inner region.
Aims. This work addresses the dissociative recombination, vibrational excitation, and vibrational de-excitation of electrons with CO+ molecular cations. The aim of this study is to understand the importance of these reactive collisions in producing carbon and oxygen atoms in cometary activity.
Methods. The cross-section calculations were based on multichannel quantum defect theory. The molecular data sets, used here to take into account the nuclear dynamics, were based on ab initio R-matrix approach.
Results. The cross-sections for the dissociative recombination, vibrational excitation, and vibrational de-excitation processes, for the six lowest vibrational levels of CO+ – relevant for the electronic temperatures observed in comets – are computed, as well as their corresponding Maxwell rate coefficients. Moreover, final state distributions for different dissociation pathways are presented.
Conclusions. Among all reactive collisions taking place between low-energy electrons and CO+, the dissociative recombination is the most important process at electronic temperatures characterizing the comets. We have shown that this process can be a major source of O(3P), O(1D), O(1S), C(3P) and C(1D) produced in the cometary coma at small cometocentric distances.
Key words: comets: general / molecular processes / molecular data
© ESO 2018