Journal Article

Formation of unsaturated hydrocarbons in interstellar ice analogues by cosmic rays

S. Pilling, D. P. P. Andrade, E. F. da Silveira, H. Rothard, A. Domaracka and P. Boduch

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 423, issue 3, pages 2209-2221
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Formation of unsaturated hydrocarbons in interstellar ice analogues by cosmic rays

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The formation of C=C and C≡C bonds from the processing of pure c-C6H12 (cyclohexane) and mixed H2O:NH3:c-C6H12 (1:0.3:0.7) ices by highly charged and energetic ions (219-MeV 16O7 + and 632-MeV 58Ni24 +) is studied. The experiments simulate the physical chemistry induced by medium-mass and heavy-ion cosmic rays in interstellar ice analogues. The measurements were performed inside a high vacuum chamber at the heavy-ion accelerator Grand Accelératéur National d’Ions Lourds (GANIL) in Caen, France. The gas samples were deposited on to a polished CsI substrate previously cooled to 13 K. In situ analysis was performed by a Fourier transform infrared spectrometry at different ion fluences. Dissociation cross-section of cyclohexane and its half-life in astrophysical environments were determined. A comparison between spectra of bombarded ices and young stellar sources indicates that the initial composition of grains in these environments should contain a mixture of H2O, NH3, CO (or CO2), simple alkanes and CH3OH. Several species containing double or triple bounds were identified in the radiochemical products, such as hexene, cyclohexene, benzene, OCN, CO, CO2, as well as several aliphatic and aromatic alkenes and alkynes. The results suggest an alternative scenario for the production of unsaturated hydrocarbons and possibly aromatic rings (via dehydrogenation processes) in interstellar ices induced by cosmic ray bombardment.

Keywords: astrobiology; astrochemistry; molecular data; methods: laboratory; cosmic rays; ISM: molecules

Journal Article.  8539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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