Carbamic acid produced by the UV/EUV irradiation of interstellar ice analogs

Y. J. Chen, M. Nuevo, J. M. Hsieh, T. S. Yih, W. H. Sun, W. H. Ip, H. S. Fung, S. Y. Chiang, Y. Y. Lee, J. M. Chen, C. Y.R. Wu

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Context. Carbamic acid (NH2COOH) is the smallest amino acid, smaller than the smallest proteinaceous amino acid glycine. This compound has never been observed in the interstellar medium (ISM). Previous experiments where ice mixtures containing H2O, CO2 and NH3 were subjected to 1-MeV proton bombardment showed that carbamic acid is formed in a stable zwitterionic (NH3+COO-) form. Aims. In the present work, we have carried out irradiations of ice mixtures containing H2O, 12CO2/13CO2 and NH3 with ultraviolet (UV)/extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photons provided by a synchrotron source in the 4-20 eV range, and compared the results with those obtained for energetic protons. Methods. Infrared (IR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry were used to identify the formed photo-products and monitor their evolution in the ices at 15 K and during the warming up to room temperature in the formed residues. Results. We identified the IR absorption features of HNCO, OCN-, CO, NH4+ and NH 2CHO at low temperature in the ices, and features assigned to carbamic acid in the residues around 250 K. Finally, we conclude that under our experimental conditions, unlike what was obtained after bombardment with energetic protons, carbamic acid may be formed in the neutral form, and propose some photochemical pathways leading to its formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-257
Number of pages5
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Astrochemistry
  • ISM: molecules
  • Methods: laboratory
  • Molecular processes
  • Techniques: spectroscopic
  • Ultraviolet: ISM


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