Formation Of NH2CHO And CH3CHO Upon UV Photoprocessing Of Interstellar Ice Analogs

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 2, 2020
Filed under
Formation Of NH2CHO And CH3CHO Upon UV Photoprocessing Of Interstellar Ice Analogs
Formamide and Acetaldehyde

Complex organic molecules (COMs) can be produced by energetic processing of interstellar ice mantles accreted on top of dust grains. Two COMs with proposed energetic ice formation pathways are formamide and acetaldehyde. Both have been detected in Solar System comets, and in different circumstellar and interstellar environments.

In this work, we study the NH2CHO and CH3CHO formation upon UV photoprocessing of CO:NH3 and CO:CH4 ice samples. The conversion from NH2 radicals to NH2CHO is 2-16 times higher than the conversion from CH3 radicals to CH3CHO under the explored experimental conditions, likely because the formation of the latter competes with the formation of larger hydrocarbons. In addition, the conversion of NH2 into NH2CHO at 10 K increases with the NH3 abundance in the ice, and also with the temperature in CO-dominated CO:NH3 ices.

This is consistent with the presence of a small NH2 and HCO reorientation barrier for the formation of NH2CHO, which is overcome with an increase in the ice temperature. The measured NH2CHO and CH3CHO formation efficiencies and rates are similar to those found during electron irradiation of the same ice samples under comparable conditions, suggesting that both UV photons and cosmic rays would have similar contributions to the solid-state formation of these species in space. Finally, the measured conversion yields (up to one order of magnitude higher for NH2CHO) suggest that in circumstellar environments, where the observed NH2CHO/CH3CHO abundance ratio is 0.1, there are likely additional ice and/or gas phase formation pathways for CH3CHO.

Rafael Martin-Domenech, Karin I. Oberg, Mahesh Rajappan
(Submitted on 2 Apr 2020)
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2004.01151 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:2004.01151v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Rafael Martín-Doménech
[v1] Thu, 2 Apr 2020 17:20:48 UTC (469 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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