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CO and N$_2$ desorption energies from water ice

  • Fayolle, Edith C.
  • Balfe, Jodi
  • Loomis, Ryan
  • Bergner, Jennifer
  • Graninger, Dawn M.
  • Rajappan, Mahesh
  • Öberg, Karin I.
Publication Date
Dec 21, 2015
Submission Date
Dec 21, 2015
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8205/816/2/L28
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The relative desorption energies of CO and N$_2$ are key to interpretations of observed interstellar CO and N$_2$ abundance patterns, including the well-documented CO and N$_2$H$^+$ anti-correlations in disks, protostars and molecular cloud cores. Based on laboratory experiments on pure CO and N$_2$ ice desorption, the difference between CO and N$_2$ desorption energies is small; the N$_2$-to-CO desorption energy ratio is 0.93$\pm$0.03. Interstellar ices are not pure, however, and in this study we explore the effect of water ice on the desorption energy ratio of the two molecules. We present temperature programmed desorption experiments of different coverages of $^{13}$CO and $^{15}$N$_2$ on porous and compact amorphous water ices and, for reference, of pure ices. In all experiments, $^{15}$N$_2$ desorption begins a few degrees before the onset of $^{13}$CO desorption. The $^{15}$N$_2$ and $^{13}$CO energy barriers are 770 and 866 K for the pure ices, 1034-1143 K and 1155-1298 K for different sub-monolayer coverages on compact water ice, and 1435 and 1575 K for $\sim$1 ML of ice on top of porous water ice. For all equivalent experiments, the N$_2$-to-CO desorption energy ratio is consistently 0.9. Whenever CO and N$_2$ ice reside in similar ice environments (e.g. experience a similar degree of interaction with water ice) their desorption temperatures should thus be within a few degrees of one another. A smaller N$_2$-to-CO desorption energy ratio may be present in interstellar and circumstellar environments if the average CO ice molecules interacts more with water ice compared to the average N$_2$ molecules.

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