Methanol Formation via Oxygen Insertion Chemistry in Ices
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CitationBergner, Jennifer B., Karin I. Öberg, and Mahesh Rajappan. 2017. Methanol Formation via Oxygen Insertion Chemistry in Ices. The Astrophysical Journal 845, no. 1: 29.
AbstractWe present experimental constraints on the insertion of oxygen atoms into methane to form methanol in astrophysical ice analogs. In gas-phase and theoretical studies this process has previously been demonstrated to have a very low or nonexistent energy barrier, but the energetics and mechanisms have not yet been characterized in the solid state. We use a deuterium UV lamp filtered by a sapphire window to selectively dissociate O 2 within a mixture of O 2 :CH 4 and observe efficient production of CH 3 OH via O( 1 D) insertion. CH 3 OH growth curves are fit with a kinetic model, and we observe no temperature dependence of the reaction rate constant at temperatures below the oxygen desorption temperature of 25 K. Through an analysis of side products we determine the branching ratio of ice-phase oxygen insertion into CH 4 : ∼65% of insertions lead to CH 3 OH, with the remainder leading instead to H 2 CO formation. There is no evidence for CH 3 or OH radical formation, indicating that the fragmentation is not an important channel and that insertions typically lead to increased chemical complexity. CH 3 OH formation from O 2 and CH 4 diluted in a CO-dominated ice similarly shows no temperature dependence, consistent with expectations that insertion proceeds with a small or nonexistent barrier. Oxygen insertion chemistry in ices should therefore be efficient under low-temperature ISM-like conditions and could provide an important channel to complex organic molecule formation on grain surfaces in cold interstellar regions such as cloud cores and protoplanetary disk midplanes.
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