An important issue in the chemistry of interstellar ices is the role of dust materials. In this work, we study the effect of an amorphous water-rich magnesium silicate deposited onto ZnSe windows on the chemical evolution of ultraviolet-irradiated methanol ices. For comparison, we also irradiate similar ices deposited onto bare ZnSe windows. Silicates are produced at relatively low temperatures exploiting a sol-gel technique. The chemical composition of the synthesized material reflects the forsterite stoichiometry. Si-OH groups and magnesium carbonates are incorporated during the process. The results show that the substrate material does affect the chemical evolution of the ice. In particular, the CO2/CO ratio within the ice is larger for methanol ices deposited onto the silicate substrate as a result of concurrent effects: the photolysis of carbonates present in the adopted substrate as a source of CO2, CO, and carbon and oxygen atoms; reactions of water molecules and hydroxyl radicals released from the substrate with the CO formed in the ice by the photolysis of the methanol ice; and changes in the structure and energy of the silicate surface by ultraviolet irradiation, leading to more favorable conditions for chemical reactions or catalysis at the grain surface. The results of our experiments allow such chemical effects contributed by the various substrate material components to be disentangled.
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science