Context. The formation of methanol (CH3OH) on icy grain mantles during the star formation cycle is mainly associated with the CO freeze-out stage. Yet there are reasons to believe that CH3OH also can form at an earlier period of interstellar ice evolution in CO-poor and H2O-rich ices.
Aims: This work focuses on CH3OH formation in a H2O-rich interstellar ice environment following the OH-mediated H-abstraction in the reaction, CH4 + OH. Experimental conditions are systematically varied to constrain the CH3OH formation yield at astronomically relevant temperatures.
Methods: CH4, O2, and hydrogen atoms are co-deposited in an ultrahigh vacuum chamber at 10-20 K. OH radicals are generated by the H + O2 surface reaction. Temperature programmed desorption - quadrupole mass spectrometry (TPD-QMS) is used to characterize CH3OH formation, and is complemented with reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS) for CH3OH characterization and quantitation.
Results: CH3OH formation is shown to be possible by the sequential surface reaction chain, CH4 + OH → CH3 + H2O and CH3 + OH → CH3OH at 10-20 K. This reaction is enhanced by tunneling, as noted in a recent theoretical investigation Lamberts et al. (2017, A&A, 599, A132). The CH3OH formation yield via the CH4 + OH route versus the CO + H route is approximately 20 times smaller for the laboratory settings studied. The astronomical relevance of the new formation channel investigated here is discussed.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- April 2018
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics