Volume 616, August 2018
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Atomic, molecular, and nuclear data|
|Published online||10 September 2018|
Photoinduced polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon dehydrogenation The competition between H- and H2-loss
Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300, RA Leiden, The Netherlands
2 Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics, Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300, RA Leiden, The Netherlands
3 CAS Key Laboratory for Research in Galaxies and Cosmology, Department of Astronomy, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, PR China
4 School of Astronomy and Space Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, 230026, PR China
Accepted: 2 June 2018
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) constitute a major component of the interstellar medium carbon budget, locking up to 10–20% of the elemental carbon. Sequential fragmentation induced by energetic photons leads to the formation of new species, including fullerenes. However, the exact chemical routes involved in this process remain largely unexplored. In this work, we focus on the first photofragmentation steps, which involve the dehydrogenation of these molecules. For this, we consider a multidisciplinary approach, taking into account the results from experiments, density functional theory (DFT) calculations, and modeling using dedicated Monte-Carlo simulations. By considering the simplest isomerization pathways — i.e., hydrogen roaming along the edges of the molecule — we are able to characterize the most likely photodissociation pathways for the molecules studied here. These comprise nine PAHs with clearly different structural properties. The formation of aliphatic-like side groups is found to be critical in the first fragmentation step and, furthermore, sets the balance of the competition between H- and H2-loss. We show that the presence of trio hydrogens, especially in combination with bay regions in small PAHs plays an important part in the experimentally established variations in the odd-to-even H-atom loss ratios. In addition, we find that, as PAH size increases, H2 formation becomes dominant, and sequential hydrogen loss only plays a marginal role. We also find disagreements between experiments and calculations for large, solo containing PAHs, which need to be accounted for. In order to match theoretical and experimental results, we have modified the energy barriers and restricted the H-hopping to tertiary atoms. The formation of H2 in large PAHs upon irradiation appears to be the dominant fragmentation channel, suggesting an efficient formation path for molecular hydrogen in photodissociation regions (PDRs).
Key words: astrochemistry / ISM: molecules / methods: laboratory: molecular / molecular processes
© ESO 2018
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