VENUS: A New Apparatus To Investigate Surface Chemistry Routes Leading To Complex Organic Molecules In Space

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 23, 2020
Filed under
VENUS: A New Apparatus To Investigate Surface Chemistry Routes Leading To Complex Organic Molecules In Space
A schematic diagram of the experimental setup.

A multi-beam ultra-high vacuum apparatus is presented. In this article we describe the design and construction of a new laboratory astrophysics experiment — VErs de NoUvelles Synthèses (VENUS) — that recreates the solid-state non-energetic formation conditions of complex organic molecules in dark clouds and circumstellar environments.

The novel implementation of four operational differentially-pumped beam lines will be used to determine the feasibility and the rates for the various reactions that contribute to formation of molecules containing more than six atoms. Data are collected by means of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and quadrupole mass spectrometry. The gold-coated sample holder reaches temperatures between 7 and 400 K.

The apparatus was carefully calibrated and the acquisition system was developed to ensure that experimental parameters are recorded as accurately as possible. A great effort has been made to have the beam lines converge towards the sample. Experiments have been developed to check the beam alignment using reacting systems of neutral species (NH3, H2CO). Preliminary original results were obtained for the NO+H system, which shows that chemistry occurs only in the very first outer layer of the deposited species, that is the chemical layer and the physical layer coincide.

This article illustrates the characteristics, performance, and future potential of the new apparatus in view of the forthcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. We show that VENUS will have a major impact through its contributions to surface science and astrochemistry.

Emanuele Congiu, Abdellahi Sow, Thanh Nguyen, Saoud Baouche, François Dulieu
Comments: 35 pages, 18 figures
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2004.10668 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2004.10668v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Emanuele Congiu
[v1] Wed, 22 Apr 2020 16:02:46 UTC (9,875 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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