An infrared study of pure and ion irradiated frozen formamide
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, via Moiariello 16, 80131 Napoli, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via Santa Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
Accepted: 10 April 2006
Context.The chemical evolution of formamide (HCONH2), a molecule of astrobiological interest that has been tentatively identified in interstellar ices and in cometary coma, has been studied in laboratory under simulated astrophysical conditions such as ion irradiation at low temperature.
Aims.To evaluate the abundances of formamide observed in space or in laboratory, the integrated absorbances for all the principal IR features of frozen amorphous pure formamide deposited at 20 K were measured. Further evidence that energetic processing of ices occurring in space is extremely relevant both to astrochemistry and to astrobiology has been found, showing that new molecular species are synthesized by ion irradiation at a low temperature.
Methods.Pure formamide were deposited at 20 K and IR transmission spectra measured for different ice thicknesses. The ice thickness was derived by looking at the interference pattern (intensity versus time) of a He-Ne laser beam reflected at an angle of 45 deg by the vacuum-film and film-substrate interfaces. Samples of formamide ice were irradiated with 200 keV H+ ions and IR spectra recorded at different ion fluences.
Results.New molecules were synthesized among which are CO, CO2, N2O, isocyanic acid (HNCO), and ammonium cyanate (NH4+OCN-). Some of these species remain stable after warming up to room temperature.
Key words: astrochemistry / astrobiology / methods: laboratory / techniques: spectroscopic / ISM: molecules / comets: general
© ESO, 2006