Investigation of Methanol Formation Mechanisms in H2O+CH4 Ices Subjected to 5 keV Electrons at a 10-100 K Temperature Range

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kamil B Stelmach and Paul D Cooper, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, United States
Methane (CH4) and water are one of the most common molecules in both planetary bodies and interstellar dust grains. Another common molecule, methanol (CH3OH), is thought to form in CH4+H2O ices. However, the exact formation mechanisms of methanol from cosmic rays are not well known, especially in the temperatures of interest. Experiments were performed using high energy electrons (5 keV) to irradiate mixtures of 1:10, 1:5, and 1:3 CH4+H2O ices under a temperature range of 10-100 Kelvin with Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy being used to identify the products. Isotopologues of the two molecules (D2O and CD4) were used to probe for the mechanisms. Other products were formed as well and their potential mechanisms are identified. The implications of the mechanisms for planetary and interstellar chemistry are discussed.