Regular Article - Molecular Physics and Chemical Physics
Electron irradiation and thermal chemistry studies of interstellar and planetary ice analogues at the ICA astrochemistry facility
Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, CT2 7NH, Canterbury, UK
2 Institute for Nuclear Research (Atomki), PO Box 51, 4026, Debrecen, Hungary
3 School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS, London, UK
4 Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, 059 60, Tatranska Lomnicá, Slovakia
5 INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, 00078, Monte Porzio Catone, Italy
6 Department of Physics and Astronomy, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, BT7 1NN, Belfast, UK
7 Department of Physics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Informatics, University of Miskolc, 3515, Miskolc, Hungary
Accepted: 2 June 2021
Published online: 24 June 2021
The modelling of molecular excitation and dissociation processes relevant to astrochemistry requires the validation of theories by comparison with data generated from laboratory experimentation. The newly commissioned Ice Chamber for Astrophysics-Astrochemistry (ICA) allows for the study of astrophysical ice analogues and their evolution when subjected to energetic processing, thus simulating the processes and alterations interstellar icy grain mantles and icy outer Solar System bodies undergo. ICA is an ultra-high vacuum compatible chamber containing a series of IR-transparent substrates upon which the ice analogues may be deposited at temperatures of down to 20 K. Processing of the ices may be performed in one of three ways: (i) ion impacts with projectiles delivered by a 2 MV Tandetron-type accelerator, (ii) electron irradiation from a gun fitted directly to the chamber, and (iii) thermal processing across a temperature range of 20–300 K. The physico-chemical evolution of the ices is studied in situ using FTIR absorbance spectroscopy and quadrupole mass spectrometry. In this paper, we present an overview of the ICA facility with a focus on characterising the electron beams used for electron impact studies, as well as reporting the preliminary results obtained during electron irradiation and thermal processing of selected ices.
© The Author(s) 2021
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