Reactivity of HCO with CH3 and NH2 on Water Ice Surfaces. A Comprehensive Accurate Quantum Chemistry Study

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 30, 2019
Filed under
Reactivity of HCO with CH3 and NH2 on Water Ice Surfaces. A Comprehensive Accurate Quantum Chemistry Study

Interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs) can be loosely defined as chemical compounds with at least six atoms in which at least one is carbon.

The observations of iCOMs in star-forming regions have shown that they contain an important fraction of carbon in a molecular form, which can be used to synthesize more complex, even biotic molecules. Hence, iCOMs are major actors in the increasing molecular complexity in space and they might have played a role in the origin of terrestrial life. Understand-ing how iCOMs are formed is relevant for predicting the ultimate organic chemistry reached in the interstellar medium.

One possibility is that they are synthesized on the interstellar grain icy surfaces, via recombination of previously formed radicals. The present work focuses on the reactivity of HCO with CH3/NH2 on the grain icy sur-faces, investigated by means of quantum chemical simulations. The goal is to carry outa systematic study using different computational approaches and models for the icy surfaces.

Specifically, DFT computations have been bench-marked with CASPT2 and CCSD(T) methods, and the ice mantles have been mimicked with cluster models of 1, 2, 18 and 33 H2O molecules, in which different reaction sites have been considered. Our results indicate that the HCO + CH3/NH2 reactions, if they actually occur, have two major competitive channels: the formation of iCOMs CH3CHO/NH2CHO, or the formation of CO + CH4/NH3. These two channels are either barrierless or presentrelatively low (≤ 10 kJ/mol equal to about 1200 K) energy barriers. Finally, we briefly discuss the astrophysical implications of these findings.

Joan Enrique-Romero, Albert Rimola, Cecilia Ceccarelli, Piero Ugliengo, Nadia Balucani, Dimitrios Skouteris
(Submitted on 27 Sep 2019)

Comments: 38 pages, 6 figures
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
DOI: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00156
Cite as: arXiv:1909.12686 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1909.12686v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Joan Enrique-Romero [view email]
[v1] Fri, 27 Sep 2019 13:43:13 UTC (4,538 KB)
Astrobiology, astrochemistry

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻