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2018ApJ...852...70B - Astrophys. J., 852, 70-70 (2018/January-2)

A mechanistical study on the formation of dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3) and ethanol (CH3CH2OH) in methanol-containing ices and implications for the chemistry of star-forming regions.


Abstract (from CDS):

The underlying formation mechanisms of complex organic molecules (COMs)-in particular, structural isomers-in the interstellar medium (ISM) are largely elusive. Here, we report new experimental findings on the role of methanol (CH3OH) and methane (CH4) ices in the synthesis of two C2H6O isomers upon interaction with ionizing radiation: ethanol (CH3CH2OH) and dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3). The present study reproduces the interstellar abundance ratios of both species with ethanol to dimethyl ether branching ratios of (2.33 ± 0.14):1 suggesting that methanol and methane represents the key precursor to both isomers within interstellar ices. Exploiting isotopic labeling combined with reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Re-TOF-MS) after isomer selective vacuum ultra-violet (VUV) photoionization of the neutral molecules, we also determine the formation mechanisms of both isomers via radical-radical recombination versus carbene (CH2) insertion with the former pathway being predominant. Formation routes to higher molecular weight reaction products such as ethylene glycol (HOCH2CH2OH), dimethyl peroxide (CH3OOCH3), and methoxymethanol (CH3OCH2OH) are discussed briefly as well.

Abstract Copyright: © 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Journal keyword(s): astrochemistry - cosmic rays - infrared: general - ISM: molecules - methods: laboratory: solid state - radiation mechanisms: non-thermal - radiation mechanisms: non-thermal

Simbad objects: 21

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